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Kreider's 2nd hat trick in 5 games lifts Rangers past Devils

Red hot Chris Kreider recorded his second hat trick in five games and the Rangers beat the slumping New Jersey Devils 6-1 on Thursday night in a game marred by a late injury to New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin.

Kreider, who scored three in a loss to Philadelphia on Feb. 24, has nine goals in his last six games, and 13 overall. He completed his natural hat trick 23 seconds into the final period after scoring twice in the second. His fourth career hat trick came on five shots.

Shesterkin seemed to hurt his right leg with just under six minutes to play when he stretched to stop a 2-on-1 break and shot by Damon Severson. He went down without contact and had to helped off the ice, dragging the leg.

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) scores against New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Newark, N.J. (AP PhotoKathy Willens)

Shesterkin kept the Rangers in the game in the first period by stopping 13 of 14 shots. He finished with 32 saves in helping the Rangers win their second straight and their fifth in seven.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Smith and Alexis Lafreniere also scored for New York.

Jack Hughes scored early for the Devils, who have lost four straight and seven of eight. It was his third goal against New York in as many games. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 11 of 15 shots before being lifted. Aaron Dell finished up.

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) embraces New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Newark, N.J. (AP PhotoKathy Willens)

Kreider tied the game at 8:58 on a great power-play rush. In quick succession. Adam Fox, Buchnevich and Ryan Strome connected on up-ice passes with Strome finding Kreider alone in front.

Kreider didn't even get his stick on his next goal. A point shot by Ryan Lindgren bounced off his body into the net. The big winger made it 3-1 with an shot into the top of the net on an odd man rush.

RANGERS REINFORCEMENTS

New York Rangers center Kevin Rooney (17) falls over New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (76) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Newark, N.J. (AP PhotoKathy Willens)

Forward Kaapo Kakko and defenseman Jacob Trouba took part in the morning skate and coach David Quinn said both are close to returning to the lineup.

Including Thursday, Kakko has missed the last six games because of the COVID-19 protocol. Trouba has missed seven games with a broken thumb.

Forward Artemi Panarin is also closer to returning, Quinn said. The Russian has missed five games while on a leave of absence after a Russian tabloid printed allegations from a former coach that he attacked an 18-year-old woman in Latvia in 2011.

New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) uses his stick to fend off New Jersey Devils left wing Miles Wood (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Newark, N.J. Chytull was penalized for the play. (AP PhotoKathy Willens)

NOTES: Vatanen got his first point in nine games with assist on Hughes' goal. ... New Jersey had not given up a power-play goal in its last three games before Kreider connected. Lafreniere has goals in two straight.

Rangers: This was the start of a six-game trip, which would be tied for the ninth-longest stretch of consecutive road games in franchise history.

Devils: New Jersey is 0-4 on the current five-game homestand. It is 2-8-1 at home.

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