Artemi Panarin edges Rangers over Sharks with fifth-career hat trick


One day after Peter Laviolette shook up his line combinations to spark a rousing comeback victory, he turned back to what previously had been working all season Sunday night to keep the Rangers rolling.

Artemi Panarin notched his fifth career hat trick — and rookie Will Cuylle put the NHL-leading Rangers ahead in the second period — before they held on for their fifth win in six games, a hairy 6-5 victory over the Sharks at the Garden.

It marked the fifth career hat trick and first this season for Panarin, who leads the Rangers with 15 goals and 35 points during their 18-4-1 start.

Veteran backup Jonathan Quick allowed five goals on 28 shots but remained unbeaten in regulation in his first season with the Blueshirts.

He improved to 7-0-1 despite his goals against average rising from 1.99 to 2.34 over nine appearances.

Laviolette had juggled his lines in the second period of Saturday’s 4-3 win in Nashville, most notably flipping left wings Chris Kreider and Panarin on his top two units.

Artemi Panarin (10) scores his second goal during the first period against the Sharks. Robert Sabo for NY Post

But Kreider was back with Mika Zibanejad on Sunday night, with Johnny Brodzinski replacing Blake Wheeler on the other side.

Panarin was shifted back alongside Vincent Trocheck, with Wheeler skating on the right side of Nick Bonino’s line with Cuylle on the left.

“It served a purpose,” Laviolette said about the previous day’s switches. “We came out in the second period and had more energy and fought back into the game, so I thought that was good.”

The Rangers have been better than good through a bit more than a quarter of their schedule, with 37 points in 23 games entering a two-game road trip this week to Ottawa (Tuesday) and Washington (Saturday).

Jonathan Quick (32) protects the goal during the second period. Robert Sabo for NY Post

“It tells me that our team is doing a lot of good things out there,” Laviolette said. “There’s more to winning a hockey game than just scoring goals, or even just preventing goals. It could be your specialty teams. It could be fighting back in games. It could be blocking shots or hits. It could be the faceoff circle. It could be the way you start games.

“When we haven’t had the game that we wanted, or a period that we wanted, I think the response has been really good from the group. I think we’ve done a good job of recognizing that and making sure we’re ready to play the right way.”

Former Rangers draft pick Anthony Duclair opened the scoring with a breakaway deke past Quick 3:50 into the game after he was sprung behind defensemen Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller.

Panarin tied it with a power-play wrister through traffic at 8:44 past former Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood to become the third player in franchise history with a season-opening home point streak of at least 10 games, joining Mike Rogers (15 games in 1983-84) and Wayne Gretzky (10 in 1996-97).

Ryan Carpenter, who appeared in 22 games for the Rangers in 2022-23, beat Quick with a wrister from above the circles with 7:39 left in the period.

But Panarin evened the score again just 34 seconds later with a rebound stuff following Trocheck’s wraparound attempt.

Kreider then fed Zibanejad from behind the net for a roofer at the right post for a 3-2 lead with 1:18 to go.

It was Zibanejad’s sixth goal this season, but only his third while skating five-on-five.

Mika Zibanejad (93) scores with an assist by New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) during the first period. Robert Sabo for NY Post

The 37-year-old Quick preserved the lead with a sprawling save across the crease to deny Mikael Granlund early in the second period, but Jacob MacDonald made it 3-3 with a one-timer on the power play that squeezed past Quick at 9:16.

Alexis Lafreniere was denied by Blackwood on a penalty shot later in the period, but Cuylle split the San Jose defense and buried his first in 11 games since Nov. 7 at 16:03 for a 4-3 lead heading into the final period.

Panarin, who had a four-goal game last season against Carolina, boosted the lead to two with a net-crashing backhanded score 4:41 into the third, prompting the customary raining down of hats to the ice from the Garden crowd.

Panarin also assisted on Miller’s goal with under seven minutes to go. which turned out to be important insurance as Fabian Zetterlund and Alexander Barabanov also beat Quick for a 6-5 game with 4:10 left.

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