Artemi Panarin’s teammates are often impressed when trying to put into words what he can do on the ice, and there simply weren’t enough adjectives to describe the star Rangers winger after the 6-3 win over the Islanders at UBS Arena on Thursday.
With four assists, Panarin broke the Rangers record which was previously held by Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky for assists by a striker in a single season. His flat 74 is also good for the third-most in franchise history for a season behind Sergei Zubrov and Brian Leetch.
“I thought he was exceptional,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of Panarin. “He made those passes and those plays. We know what he will do. We talked about playing defense, the easy thing about playing defense, if you work hard and get back in your zone, that’s half the battle for me. He’s not playing perfect D-zone coverage, backchecking as hard as some guys, because he’s reading plays and that’s what he does.
” That’s why he [is on pace to get] 100 points, he makes those special games. He competes and he played hard. I thought tonight they chased him a bit and he just bounced off them and kept making his plays. I love the way he plays. When the games are really close, in the last four games, I watch him and he comes back and he does a good job in the D zone. He doesn’t try to turn the pucks over, he gets low and he tries to make his games.
“For the most part, he did. I think he’s a hell of a player. He doesn’t play the same as everyone else, but that’s what makes him great.
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Thursday marked Panarin’s fifth career four-assist outing and second of the season, making him the first Ranger since Gretzky (1996-97) to record multiple four-assist outings in a single campaign. His 20 games with multiple assists is also tied for second in the NHL and another Rangers record.
Panarin got the first assist on two of Andrew Copp’s three first-half goals, but was also credited with the secondary assist on the third. After sending a nifty stream for the former, Panarin then found the Rangers trade deadline acquisition via traffic for the latter.
“His ability to make plays on his forehand and backhand and the way he’s able to create time and space for himself when it looks like he’s going to run out of space,” said Ryan Strome , who capitalized on a Panarin feed in the closing seconds of the second period for the 5-1 lead. “It’s quite impressive. Not necessarily the fastest or biggest guy, but it’s amazing how much space he gets for himself because he’s good with the puck. If you’re open, there’s not a guy on the ice that he won’t find.
“He’s just the same old Bread, working hard every day, just trying to make our team better and obviously tonight was a great effort on his part.”
New York Post