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The Rangers are riding the magic of unlikely goal-scorers — but can they keep getting away with it?

Either the Rangers are so deep that they might be unbeatable, or their stars are in such a slump that they might be doomed.

It can’t be both, but it’s not yet clear which is the correct way to assess a team that moved to within six wins of hoisting the Stanley Cup by beating the Panthers, 5-4, in overtime Sunday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Rangers lead the series, 2-1.

A version of the Rangers that is getting goals from light scorers Barclay Goodrow, Alex Wennberg, Will Cuylle and Jacob Trouba — all of whom have lit the lamp in the past six games — is dangerous to opponents.

A version of the Rangers that is relying on those four and other bit offensive pieces to deliver because Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Adam Fox have gone dark is only a danger to itself.

The Rangers won Games 2 and 3 in overtime because Goodrow, who scored four goals in 80 regular-season games, scored three goals in a three-day span.

Alexis Lafrenière celebrates after the first of his two goals in the Rangers’ Game 3 victory over the Panthers. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

They won because Wennberg, who had one goal in his first 31 regular-season and playoff games with the Rangers after being acquired at the trade deadline, redirected an overtime game-winner.

They won because Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafrenière (who tallied two highlight-reel goals Sunday) aren’t as cold as the other big guns.

Panarin hasn’t scored a goal in the six games since his Game 3 overtime winner in the second round against the Hurricanes.

Panarin’s drought looks OK in comparison to Zibanejad, who hasn’t found the net in eight straight games. The only other time in 55 career playoff games with the Rangers that Zibanejad went eight straight without scoring spanned the 2022 and 2023 playoffs (six had been his quietest stretch in a single postseason).

Both of those streaks are child’s play when compared to Fox, who is in the midst of a mind-boggling stretch of 26 consecutive playoff games (spanning three postseasons) without a goal despite finishing sixth among NHL defenseman with 17 goals during the regular season.

Even Kreider — whose third-period hat trick in the Game 6 clincher against the Hurricanes might have ensured his place in the Madison Square Garden rafters after retirement — has not scored outside of that one period in the past six games.

Mika Zibanejad, unable to find the back of the net for the eighth straight game, handles the puck during the Rangers’ 5-4 overtime win. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Is it sustainable for the Rangers to continue down this path?

It’s difficult to imagine the suddenly bottom-heavy Rangers, who were outplayed in Game 3 except for the brilliance of goalie Igor Shesterkin, can keep pace with the Panthers unless some of their All-Stars begin to cancel out their counterparts.

Seven of the Panthers’ eight goals this series have been scored by their five 20-goal regular-season scorers — Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe, Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett. That group kept firing — 108 shot attempts in Game 3 — as the Rangers looked to make the perfect pass and settled for 44 shot attempts.

In the Western Conference Final, four of the Stars’ five tallies through two games are off the stick of 25-goal scorers. Three of the four goals for the Oilers are from their top three scorers — who combined for 127 regular-season goals.

In other words, stars generally need to shine brightest at this time of year.

So, the most likely scenarios awaiting the Rangers are either some combination of Panarin, Kreider, Zibanejad and Fox get hot … or the winning stops.

Unless Kaapo Kakko, Jack Roslovic and Matt Rempe start scoring, too, and the Conn Smythe Trophy gets split into a dozen pieces.

Today’s back page

New York Post

Stanton’s statement

Built like a 6-foot-6, 245-pound Adonis, Giancarlo Stanton never will look the part of an overachiever.

With a $325 million contract that is tied for the ninth-largest in MLB, Stanton doesn’t get paid like someone whose contributions should be a feel-good surprise.

And yet one of the most charming parts of the Yankees’ American League-best start is the revitalization of Stanton, who is hitting .235 with 13 home runs, 29 RBIs and a .780 OPS.

Perhaps most impressively, Stanton has remained healthy enough to play in 48 of the first 55 games.

Giancarlo Stanton is greeted by Anthony Rizzo after bashing a homer in the Yankees’ win on May 24. AP

The bar was admittedly low for Stanton entering this season after he hit .202, compiled a .729 OPS and struck out once every 2.94 at-bats over 2022-23. He played in just 211 of a possible 324 regular-season games.

In short, Stanton looked finished then. He is proving now — with five home runs and a .966 OPS during a 12-3 stretch by the Yankees before Sunday’s four-strikeout eyesore in a 5-2 loss to the Padres — that he is not.

“He looks like ‘Big G,’” Aaron Judge said during the last homestand. “I know he’s been battling injuries the past couple seasons, but he’s finally feeling healthy and feeling like himself. For him to put in the work that he did this offseason and come in in shape, the way he wanted to, that speaks volumes to the type of person he is and the type of competitor he is. He wasn’t happy with how things went the past couple seasons, so to see him come out here and do it has been great.”

Juan Soto’s arrival in New York has been valuable for Soto because he is driving up his free-agent price tag by the day as he shows he can handle the pinstriped pressure-cooker.

Soto’s arrival in New York has been beneficial for Judge, who has emerged from an early-season slump as the hottest hitter in baseball as he capitalizes on seeing better pitches because of Soto’s long at-bats and high on-base percentage.

But don’t overlook the impact of Soto’s arrival in New York on Stanton.

Juan Soto’s gangbusters opening third of the season has helped to lengthen the Yankees lineup. AP

No longer is Stanton expected to be part of a dynamic duo with Judge. His numbers as a secondary power piece are more encouraging than they would have been if seen through the lens of being Judge’s other half.

With Soto, Judge and a surprisingly dominant Gerrit Cole-less pitching staff leading the way to a 37-18 start, even Yankees fans aren’t in the booing mood, which cuts everyone some slack when needed. No one can breathe easier than Stanton, whose contract makes him the easy target if he doesn’t deliver in every at-bat when things aren’t going well.

Soto, Judge and Stanton homered in the same game for the first time as teammates in Friday’s win against the Padres. It won’t be the last time it happens if Stanton keeps “overachieving.”

Better off lost?

Maybe losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Pacers on May 19 wasn’t an unsuitable ending for the New York-captivating Knicks after all.

Maybe hearing the home-crowd ovations for Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo as they walked to the bench for the final time with their energy tanks at zero … and watching OG Anunoby prioritize the team ahead of his upcoming free agency by trying to gut through a hamstring injury … and seeing Jalen Brunson and Hart put aside their postgame disappointment to get out of their cars and mingle with fans loitering outside of Madison Square Garden … was the fairy-tale ending.

There is a rule in sports: The further a team advances in the playoffs, the better for gaining experience, for creating memorable moments and for dreaming of championship possibilities.

Donte DiVincenzo shows the disappointment of the Knicks’ Game 7 ouster against the Pacers. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

But watching the Pacers — down 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and deserving of no attaboys for staying close enough to blow two late fourth-quarter leads — serve as a sacrificial lamb for the Celtics makes me think the 2023-24 Knicks are the exception to the rule. The season ended at just the right time.

Do you want the Knicks to take the Pacers’ place? No thanks.

Sure, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 24 years would have felt like a fleeting accomplishment. Sticking it to the Pacers would have created more 1990s revenge. It would have looked like a nice footnote years from now in the “Year-by-Year Results” section of the team media guide.

But there would have been no joy last week and this week in watching the shorthanded Knicks be fodder for the Celtics. A couple of blowout losses at Madison Square Garden as the Knicks played without Brunson — who broke his hand during Game 7 against the Pacers — in addition to the missing Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mitchell Robinson and Anunoby would have soured the taste in your mouth headed into the offseason.

Worse, who knows if meddlesome owner James Dolan would have overreacted?

Admit it, Knicks fans.

The Celtics can polish off a Eastern Conference Finals sweep of the Pacers on Monday night after a jubilant Jrue Holiday led a comeback win in Game 3. USA TODAY Sports

If the Celtics sweep the Pacers out of the playoffs Monday night, you’ll lay your head on the pillow and reassuringly think, “The Knicks at least would have found a way to steal a game in that series. We aren’t that far away when at full strength.”

A good night’s sleep would have been much harder to get after overexposure to dual-city sports talk about how the Tom Brady-less Patriots still own the Jets, how the Red Sox have eliminated the Yankees the past three times they met in the playoffs and how the Celtics just served a cold dose of reality to the Knicks.

If all else fails, instead of counting sheep, count all the officiating calls Pacers coach Rick Carlisle is complaining about as his team chokes away its opportunity.

Aaron Rodgers’ running mate

The slogan for the Aaron Rodgers-Nathaniel Hackett ticket seeking to regain the confidence of Jets fans could be: “You vote for the QB, not the OC.”

That’s pretty much what Rodgers said Friday on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio in defense of Hackett returning as offensive coordinator.

“You should trust me, and I trust Nathaniel,” Rodgers told host Adam Schein. “So, to me, that’s end of story.”

Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett speaks with the media as he prepares for his second season with the team. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

Is he arrogant? Yes, but Rodgers has earned the right to be confident in his abilities after winning four NFL MVPs.

Is he wrong? No. That’s the type of all-in-on-Rodgers system the Jets have set up.

The Jets reportedly tried (and failed) to hire an offensive coach above Hackett in the hierarchy this offseason. Who would’ve called the plays if they had succeeded — Hackett or the newcomer — remains uncertain and has been rendered a moot point.

Hackett scoffed last week at the idea he could’ve been replaced, saying he was involved in all discussions on staff changes.

But you can’t blame Jets fans for being wary of what’s coming considering that:

• The last two teams with Hackett as the offensive play-caller — the 2023 Jets and 2022 Broncos — finished No. 29 and No. 32, respectively, in scoring.

• It appears Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who has taken a more active role in the offense, has lost some faith in Hackett.

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Robert Saleh chat on the practice field. AP

• Rodgers’ track record of advocating moves for the Jets — signing running back Dalvin Cook and receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb — is poor.

Now that things remain status quo, Rodgers sounds willing to attach his late-career reputation to Hackett based on the success they had together with the Packers. Rodgers won two MVPs (2020 and 2021) with Hackett in a non-play-calling offensive coordinator role.

Bottom line: Jets fans should ask themselves if they would prefer Rodgers-Hackett or some other offensive coordinator paired with some other quarterback.

That’s a vote Rodgers is probably going to win — no matter the resume of his running mate.

What we’re reading 👀

⛳ Grayson Murray died by suicide at the age of 30, the two-time PGA Tour winner’s parents shared. The golf world remained heartbroken this weekend as friends paid tribute to Murray’s life. If you are struggling, you can dial the National Suicide Prevention hotline 24/7 at 988.

⚾ The Mets rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Giants on Omar Narvaez’s single, snapping a five-game losing streak from hell and staving off existential questions about the team’s future for at least a day.

⚾ Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. is done for the season due to torn ACL.

🏀 The Mavericks are one win away from the NBA Finals.

🏀 Is this just a blip for the Liberty?

🏎 Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 for the second year in a row and drank that milk.

🎾 Stan Wawrinka eliminated Andy Murray in the first round of the French Open. Next on the marquee: Rafael Nadal opens against No. 4 seed Alex Zverev.

🏒 High drama as Minnesota’s goal to clinch the PWHL’s inaugural Walter Cup was taken off the board, and Boston won instead to set up Wednesday’s decisive Game 5.

🥇 Sha’Carri Richardson is flying.

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