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Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere are having standout seasons, key factors in the New York Rangers‘ surge to the summit of the NHL standings. The dynamic duo’s chemistry has been evident throughout the season, with their recent nine-point performance setting the stage for the Rangers’ quest to extend their lead in both the Metropolitan Division and the President’s Trophy race as they face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

The Rangers (50-20-4, 104 points) are riding high on a five-game winning streak, capped by an explosive third-period display in their 8-5 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Panarin continued his stellar form, notching a goal and three assists to elevate his career-high totals to 44 goals and 107 points, tying him for third in team history with Mark Messier (1991-92). With six goals and 13 points in the winning streak, Panarin’s performance has been instrumental since his hat trick against the Boston Bruins on March 21 marked the streak’s outset.

Lafreniere also with his first career hat trick and two assists, marking his inaugural five-point game. The former top overall pick has notched a career-best 25 goals and 52 points, including five goals in the past three games.”It’s a relief to get that first one,” Lafreniere commented. “I’m just focused on playing my game with confidence.”Panarin and Lafreniere’s standout performances, coupled with Chris Kreider’s milestone 300th career goal, ensured the Rangers maintained their narrow lead ahead of the Dallas Stars and contenders like the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins.

“We’ve been consistent all season,” noted New York goalie Jonathan Quick. “This team’s camaraderie and work ethic are exceptional. It’s what defines great teams.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins (32-30-11, 75 points) find themselves trailing in the playoff race, seven points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite gaining points in their last four games, the Penguins have struggled, conceding leads and suffering losses. The Rangers have dominated recent encounters with the Penguins, winning the last four matchups by scoring a total of 18 goals. Their previous meeting resulted in a 7-4 victory for the Rangers on March 16, with Panarin leading the charge with a five-point performance. Overall, New York boasts an impressive 7-1-1 record in their past nine regular-season clashes with Pittsburgh.

Shesterkin between the pipes.


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