NEW YORK — Patrik Laine went more than a year between hat tricks, and still the 19-year-old Finnish star is on a remarkable pace.
The 19-year-old star had been the youngest ever with three hat tricks — getting there at 18 years, 302 days — but it had been over a year since his last three-goal game. He joins Jimmy Carson and Dale Hawerchuk as the only players with four hat tricks before turning 20.
Laine has at least a point in nine straight games (13 goals, six assists) and has scored multiple goals in four of his past five contests. He’s two goals behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead this season.
“Our line is playing pretty good hockey,” Laine said.
Laine is the first visiting teenager with a hat trick at Madison Square Garden since Toronto’s Ted Kennedy on Dec. 27, 1944, according to Sportsnet Stats.
Steve Mason made 31 saves as the Jets extended their winning streak to three. Winnipeg has earned points in seven straight road games (6-0-1) and improved to 14-6-5 against the Eastern Conference.
“He didn’t get overworked,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “He had a couple of tough ones early, a couple of squeezers right around the net that he made a good save on, and then a lot of what came to him, he saw clean, so it was a good start for sure.”
Henrik Lundqvist made his 798th career appearance and stopped 31 shots as the Rangers lost for the first time in four games. Lundqvist made 50 saves in each of his previous two games.
“At the end of the night, we tried hard and tried battling back in the third,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “That’s a real good team we played tonight and they were able to get their best shooter to get a few good looks.”
Laine opened the scoring by putting a wrist shot past Lundqvist at 19:05 of the first period. He added on midway through the second period when he snapped off another wrist shot, then scored into an empty net with 34 seconds left.
Laine, the second overall pick of the 2016 draft, scored 36 goals in his rookie season. He leads the NHL in goals since entering the league with 74. Ovechkin and Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov each have 73.
Mason made his first appearance since Jan. 9th, when he was sidelined with a concussion. The veteran will play important minutes down the stretch as Winnipeg looks to lighten Connor Hellebuyck’s workload before the playoffs. The franchise hopes to win a playoff series for the first time in its history.
Winnipeg teammates Mark Schiefele and Blake Wheeler collided in the first period. Schiefele initially returned to action but was later ruled out for the game with an upper-body injury. His last shift ended with 3:58 remaining in the second period.
Rangers forward Vladislav Namestnikov skated in his first game at MSG since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
NOTES: Twelve members of the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team were honoured during the first period. … Rangers F Pavel Buchnevich skated in his 100th game. … Rangers F Mika Zibanejad missed the game with the flu. … Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk skated with the team in practice for the first time since having a knee operation in January. … Winnipeg sent goalie Michael Hutchinson to the AHL to make room for Mason. … Defenceman Toby Enstrom missed his fourth consecutive game.
Jets: Play at New Jersey on Thursday night.
Rangers: Play at Tampa Bay on Thursday night.