NEW YORK — Mika Zibanejad scored five goals to match the New York Rangers’ record, capping the scoring spree 33 seconds into overtime in a wild 6-5 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
“The puck followed me today, I guess,” he said. “You look at the goals and it’s unbelievable plays being made and today I was at the right spot at the right time.
“It’s a night I’ll remember for a long time.”
Zibanejad is the second player in NHL history to score his fifth goal in OT, joining Detroit’s Sergei Fedorov, who accomplished the feat on Dec. 26, 1996 — also against Washington.
“I feel like I’m speechless right now, to be honest with you,” Zibanejad said.
Zibanejad’s 38th of the season helped New York end a three-game skid. He took a pass from Artemi Panarin. Zibanejad is the first Rangers center with at least 35 goals in a season since Hall of Famer Eric Lindros in 2001-02.
“You’d be hard-pressed to match that,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “Early on, he gets the hat trick and just doesn’t stop.”
The Rangers’ center is also the first player with five goals in a game since Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine did it in an 8-4 win over St. Louis on Nov. 24, 2018. Zibanejad joined Don Murdoch (Oct. 12, 1976) and Mark Pavelich (Feb. 23, 1983) as Rangers with five goals in a game.
“Sit back and watch it and enjoy it because it was a special night in so many ways for him and for us obviously to win a game of that magnitude, the ebbs and flows of it,” Quinn said.
“It was a special night obviously, not just for Mika, but for all of us to be part of it.”
When Zibanejad first entered the locker room after the game, it was empty — until his hiding teammates surprised him and quickly mobbed him with hugs.
“I didn’t expect that,” Zibanejad said. “I knew something was going on when I came in and no one was in here.”
Teammates also took to social media to cheer his big night, including goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who tweeted: “Are you kidding me?? Did that just happen? What a performance!!”
Tony DeAngelo had a goal and two assists, Panarin had three assists and Alexandar Georgiev made 29 saves for New York.
Alex Ovechkin had two goals, including the tying score with 43 second remaining to force overtime. That came after Zibanejad scored on a rebound with 1:42 remaining to give New York a brief 5-4 lead.
Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist, and Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway also scored for Washington. Ilya Samsonov had 33 saves for the Capitals.
Defense has been an issue for the Capitals, who have given up at least three goals for the 10th consecutive game. It’s the first time they’ve done that since the 2006-07 season.
The Rangers broke a 3-3 tie early in the third period. Pavel Buchnevich had the puck behind the net and connected with Zibanejad, who was cutting across the net just 12 seconds in.
Ovechkin wristed in his 46th of the season from the left faceoff circle at 9:22 to make it 4-4.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the second, the teams traded goals 16 seconds apart.
First, DeAngelo scored off a nice pass from Panarin at 14:42. Panarin connected with the defenseman, who was cutting toward the net and scored his 14th of the season.
The Capitals answered right back when Hathaway scored his ninth of the season.
Tied 1-1 after the first, the Rangers grabbed the lead in the second.
On a delayed penalty call against the Capitals, the Rangers were able to keep control of the puck in the attacking zone. Adam Fox fed a one-timer to Zibanejad at the left faceoff circle and he beat Samsonov at 5:29.
A little more than six minutes later, the Capitals tied it at 2-2. From behind the net, Lars Eller sent a pass to Kovalchuk, who beat Georgiev with his 10th of the season and his first since being acquired by Washington last month.
Georgiev was sharp early on in the game, including stopping Richard Panik on a breakaway a little more than five minutes into the first period.
The Capitals kept up the pressure and opened the scoring a couple of minutes later. Nick Jensen sent a pass to Hagelin, who beat Georgiev with a wrister short side for his eighth of the season at 7:05.
The Rangers tied it on the power play two minutes after that. DeAngelo sent a pass from the right point to Panarin. Panarin’s one-timer was deflected into the net by Zibanejad at 9:01.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.