After leading the Rangers to a 6-3 win over the Devils with three goals on Saturday afternoon, Pavel Buchaniewicz admitted that it was one of the birthday wishes he gave himself.
It was the first three-goal game of his career and allowed the Rangers to pull within four points of the fourth playoff in the East Division. If this isn’t special enough, Buchaniewicz also became the first player in franchise history to score a hat-trick on his birthday.
“But it only happens once a year,” Buchaniewicz said with a smile.
When asked about his growth in his five seasons in New York, Buchaniewicz said he is beginning to understand his role and what the coaches want from him better than ever.
The 26-year-old winger passed the Rangers for the first time at 7:26, a 2-on-1 from Micah Zibnazad for a 1-0 lead in the tug.
“It has been a lot of fun playing with him and seeing his growth over the years,” said Jibenzad. “I think he does it all now. He works hard, but apparently, he is one of the top skill guys, I would say. “
Later in the first, Devils defenseman Damon Severson took a holding penalty to prevent Brett Howard from jumping over Brexit in less than a minute before the Devils were called up for a lot of guys on the ice. This gave the Rangers a 5-on-three chance, and Ryan Chrome took advantage with a one-timer to make it a 2–0 game.
Buchaniewicz netted his second of the day at 11:48 of the day to become the Rangers’ leading scorer this season. His empty-net tally in the third pushed the total to 19, two away from his career-high 21 in 2018-19.
“Just an overall maturity,” said head coach David Quinn as Buchnevich stepped up. “The fact that he has got the ability to play 200-foot games and he certainly has done it all year, and for a guy without the stats on our top power-play unit, he would certainly be that year’s versions. Speaks to what he has. “
Chris Kreider scored his first goal since March 28 on an empty net at 19:38 of the third period to keep it out of reach for the third game.
The Devils had their goalkeeper, Aaron Dale, pulled for a 6-on-5 advantage. Kreider has not recorded a similar-strength goal since March 13, with his final three before appearing on the power play on Saturday.
“How strange goal-scoring is. It is not just in our locker room, but across the league, ”Quinn said. “Sometimes when you get one, regardless of how you get it, more follow. As such it has gone on to be the most goalscorer in this league. It has definitely gone that way for Chris since he has been here.
“I found his game to be the leader in that empty-net goal, I thought you could see that he was doing a lot of good things. I felt that the game was definitely heading towards that goal.”