NEW YORK — Pavel Buchnevich celebrated his birthday with his first career hat trick and the New York Rangers beat the New Jersey Devils 6-3 on Saturday for their third win over their Hudson River rivals in five days.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists and Ryan Strome had a goal and an assist in a three-goal first-period outburst as the Rangers improved to 12-4-3 in their last 19 games.
The question after the quick start was whether rookie Igor Shesterkin would get his third consecutive shutout. The Russian’s shutout streak was stopped at 152 minutes, 37 seconds when Michael McLeod scored on a second-period rebound.
New Jersey then got within 4-3 when P.K. Subban and Yegor Sharangovich scored in a 64-second span in the third period with the teams playing 4-on-4 to cut the lead to a goal. However, Buchnevich and Chris Kreider added late empty-net goals to seal the win.
The victory extended the Rangers’ point streak to a season-high five games (4-0-1) and pulled them within four points of idle Boston in the race for the last playoff berth in the East. The Rangers have 12 games left in the regular season, two fewer than the Bruins.
Shesterkin finished with 30 saves. Aaron Dell had 24 saves for the Devils, who have lost five straight and are 1-7-2 in their last 10.
Buchnevich, 26, ignited and capped the three-goal opening period. He finished off an odd-man rush with Mika Zibanejad, who had three assists, with a shot into an open net at 7:26. The next two goals came on the power play after Damon Severson was called for holding and New Jersey was called for too many men on the penalty kill. Strome scored from a bad angle on the 5-on-3 segment, and Buchnevich got his second, roofing a shot from between the circles.
Panarin, who now has 301 career assists, made it 4-0 early in the second period on a shot off Dell’s glove.
Then the Devils’ comeback came up just short.
The teams will end the four-game series in New Jersey on Sunday and meet for the final time in the regular season. New York has won the last five and leads the series 5-2.
NOTEBOOK: Devils played without top scorers Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt, who are out with lower body injuries … New Jersey D Matt Tennyson played for the first time since Feb. 16. while F Nate Bastian returned after missing 15 games with an injury.