NEW YORK (AP) — Elias Pettersson and Nils Hoglander each scored twice, Thatcher Demko made 39 saves and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the New York Rangers 6-3 on Monday night in battle of first-place teams.
JT Miller and Brock Boeser also scored goals while Pettersson, Boeser and Filip Hronek had two assists apiece for Vancouver, which won for the third time in four games.
After missing the playoffs for three straight seasons, the Canucks lead the Pacific Division with a 26-11-3 record. The Rangers lead the Metropolitan Division at 26-11-2.
“We understand each other how we want to defend and forecheck. And that sets up your chances offensively,” said Pettersson, who led the Canucks with 102 points last season and has 52 points in 40 games this year. ”It’s great to see where we are in the standings.”
Vincent Trocheck had two goals and Artemi Panarin also scored for the Rangers, who lost their second straight for just the second time this season. Alexis Lafreniere had two assists.
The Rangers were coming off a 4-3 shootout loss at Montreal on Saturday. Their only previous consecutive losses were Dec. 5 and Dec. 9, when they fell on the road to Ottawa and Washington respectively.
“They are a high-powered, high-octane team. The way we played, how we played mentally was just not sharp enough to be good for 60 minutes,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said.
Vancouver stopped the New Jersey Devils 6-4 on Saturday and will continue its New York-area tour against the Islanders on Tuesday.
“That’s a tough team over there. To beat a team like we needed a lot of contributions from everybody, and I thought we got that tonight,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said. ”You have to give the guys credit … The Rangers pressed and we made a couple of nice plays under pressure. That’s what I liked.”
Trocheck opened the scoring on the power-play at 3:38 of the first, assisted by Mika Zibanejad and Panarin. The assist extended Panarin’s points streak to eight games.
Miller tied the contest, firing his 19th goal past Igor Shesterkin at 4:31. Miller was a first-round draft pick in 2011 by the Rangers who was traded to Tampa Bay in 2018. He leads the Canucks with 54 points.
“We’re going to the net and scoring goals. Right now, we are getting the bounces,” Miller said. ”This is a really special building for me to come into. I love playing here.”
Hoglander put Vancouver ahead at 6:45, whipping the puck past Shesterkin from the right circle. Boeser made it 3-1 at 19:44 with his team-leading 25th goal with assists to Pettersson and Quinn Hughes as Shesterkin, 20 saves, allowed three goals on seven shots in the opening period.
Panarin narrowed the deficit to 3-2 with his 26th goal at 8:19 of the second. Panarin has points in 33 of New York’s 39 games and leads the Rangers with 57 points.
Petterson made it 4-2 with a dazzling move at 15:33 of the second before Hoglander scored his second of the game on a backhand at 16:47. Hronek assisted on both goals.
“I tried to get the puck through my legs and get it to the net. That was a big goal for us,” Hoglander said.
Trocheck scored his second at 3:36 of the third before Pettersson added an empty-net goal — his 19th of the season — at 18:29.
“You’re not going to win when you give up five goals, not on a regular basis,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. ”We made mental mistakes. We made line-change mistakes, we made turnover mistakes, and it was too much for our goaltender.”
The Rangers won this season’s previous meeting against the Canucks, 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 28 in Vancouver.
Rangers: Visit the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Canucks: Visit the New York Islanders on Tuesday night to continue seven-game road trip.
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