Pavel Buchnevich had two goals and two assists — all in the second period — and Brendan Lemieux, Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba and Filip Chytil also scored in the Rangers’ most decisive victory since beating New Jersey 9-0 on March 31, 1986. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 26 shots for his sixth career shutout.
“I thought we were ready to go from the start,” said Zibanejad. “It was a great effort, we really played together. … Obviously, we got rewarded, especially in the second period. It was an amazing feeling and a nice win tonight.”
The Rangers were without head coach David Quinn and assistants Jacques Martin, David Oliver and Greg Brown due to NHL COVID-19 protocols. Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch and associate head coach Gord Murphy, and Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury were behind the bench.
“You didn’t have much time to think about it,” Knoblauch said when asked about pregame preparation as the acting head coach. “Everything was laid out for us from the coaching staff. When the game started there were some nerves, definitely some excitement. … It’s certainly a night that I will never forget.”
Brian Elliott started in goal for Philadelphia and allowed five goals on 13 shots before being replaced midway through the second period as the Flyers lost for the third time in four games. Carter Hart finished with 12 saves.
“It was embarrassing to be playing on that ice tonight the way we played,” Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux said. “We didn’t help our goalies at all. There’s not a lot of words to say. We know we got to wake up.”
Zibanejad scored three consecutive goals in a 10:10 span of the second for his fifth career hat trick. The Swedish center also topped 400 career points.
Zibanejad converted a short-handed breakaway at 8:27 on the first shot Hart saw in relief of Elliott. Panarin found Zibanejad dashing through the offensive zone on the power play before Zibanejad lifted the puck over Hart’s glove with 5:31 left in the period. Zibanejad completed the natural hat trick with an even-strength goal at with 1:23 remaining to make it 8-0.
Chytil capped the scoring with his fourth of the season a minute later.
“It was surreal, Georgiev said. “It felt like we were just doing all the right things. We did not play some crazy open hockey. We just made sure to wait for their mistakes. The guys played unreal today. It was something special.”
Both of Buchnevich’s goals came early in the second to extend the Rangers’ lead to 4-0 and key the big period. The Russian winger fired a shot from the slot after Zibanejad created a turnover behind the Flyers net at 1:38. Two minutes later, Buchnevich was the beneficiary of an odd bounce off Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers.
Myers and his defensive partner Travis Sanheim were on the ice for the Rangers’ first five goals of the contest.
“Nothing about this game was any good,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We are going to throw it out, get ready for the next one.”
Lemieux opened the scoring at 7:05 of the first. Adam Fox, back after a one-game absence due to COVID-19 protocol, made a nifty move at the blue line and delivered a cross-ice pass to set up Lemieux.
Panarin doubled the Rangers’ first-period advantage with his second goal in two games. Ryan Strome picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone and fed Panarin at 14:47.
Trouba netted his first of the season at 3:38 of the second to make it 3-0.
The Rangers scored nine goals through the first two periods of a game for the second time in franchise history. The other came against the Hartford Whalers on Feb. 23, 1989.
At least one Ranger who is 23 years old or younger has tallied a point on 28 of the team’s 45 goals in the last 12 games (eight goals, 31 assists)
Flyers: At the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Rangers: At Washington on Friday night.