Panarin, Fox shine as Rangers pummel Penguins

For the Penguins, the bad news might be that they turn around and face the Rangers again on Thursday after New York clobbered them 8-4. Don’t blame the Penguins if they’re secretly relieved that Thursday also marks the last time they’ll face the Rangers in the regular season.

Rangers look explosive in lopsided win over Penguins

Since March 1, the Avalanche have been the most explosive team in the NHL, averaging a scorching 4.1 goals per game. The Rangers came in at second place (3.72, 67 goals for, 46 against), slightly ahead of the Penguins (3.67, 66 GF, 37 GA).

Hockey fans got a big taste of why New York’s been on such a roll.

Above all else, top Rangers came up big against the Penguins.

That started with Artemi Panarin, who lit up Pittsburgh with four points (1G, 3A). Panarin extended his multi-point streak to four games (4G, 7A) to push his season total to an impressive 40 points in 27 games played. Frankly, Panarin could have conceivably scored on other occasions; he was all over the place. And all over an overpowered opponent.

If hockey fans and media needed another push to jump on the Adam Fox bandwagon, then this game blared that horn. Fox collected three points on Tuesday, nabbing two assists along with a shorthanded goal.

Mika Zibanejad set up that SHG, and created plenty of chances in his own right.

Even the Rangers’ power play is starting to heat up, as that unit went 3-for-3 vs. the Penguins.

It wasn’t just the established names, either

Also delightful for New York: up-and-coming young players looked like rising stars.

While the Penguins scored four goals, Igor Shesterkin didn’t exactly look bad for the Rangers. Shesterkin ended up making 40 saves as the two teams traded chances for most of the contest.

(It was a rough one for Tristan Jarry, who got the hook after allowing four goals during the first period. Clearly, Casey DeSmith could only do so much, himself.)

Beyond Shesterkin, the Rangers received a goal apiece from Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere.

Lafreniere’s goal was especially nice, both for him and his teammates:

About the only complaint the Rangers can make is that they’re likely too far behind the Penguins, Bruins, Islanders, and Capitals for one of the East’s four playoff spots. Considering how they’ve been playing, it wouldn’t be shocking if New York could make a run if you could start the 2020-21 season fresh.

And it sure makes it easier to imagine bigger things in 2021-22.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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