Connect with us

Sports

Rescued Rangers: Kreider lifts N.Y. to East final

Published

on

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider told his teammates he felt there was a goal in his stick before the third period of Game 6 against the Carolina Hurricanes, with his team trailing 3-1.

“I said, ‘I sure hope so,'” recalled teammate Vincent Trocheck.

Kreider did score a goal in the third period in Raleigh on Thursday night. And then another. And another. His natural hat trick in the final frame fueled New York’s 5-3 comeback win, which eliminated the Hurricanes after Carolina had rallied from a 3-0 series deficit. The Rangers await the winner of the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference final.

“That is just a monster third period,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “He put it on his back and he really delivered. It was more than just him, but at the end of the day, we needed to score goals, and this is what he does.”

Kreider now has seven goals in the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs. Only two Rangers players have scored more in their first 10 games of a postseason: Ron Duguay and Ulf Nilsson in 1981 (8 goals).

Kreider became the ninth player in NHL history to record a natural hat trick in the third period of a game. He’s the sixth player in NHL playoff history to record a natural hat trick at any point in a game that included a series-clinching goal. Only two other players in NHL history have had a natural hat trick in the third period that included a series-clinching goal.

“It was clutch. I think we were down on ourselves after the first two periods. Whenever you’re in a spot like that, you need your big players to come up big, and that’s what Chris did tonight,” Trocheck said.

Kreider’s first goal at 6:43 of the third period came after linemate Mika Zibanejad tried to bank the puck off the skate of Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen from a bad angle. Kreider skated in and knocked the loose puck in front of Andersen into the net to cut the Carolina lead to 3-2.

“It definitely hurt. You don’t want to give them life. I thought I have it covered, and I wasn’t able to get my glove down on it. Mistake. Tough timing on that,” said Andersen (19 saves), who was outdueled by Igor Shesterkin (33 saves).

Just 5:11 later, Kreider scored on the power play to tie the game. Zibanejad drew a cross-checking penalty on Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal, one of Carolina’s top penalty killers. Kreider deflected an Artemi Panarin point shot to tie the game. That snapped a three-game power-play drought for the Rangers, who had scored 10 power-play goals in their previous five playoff games.

“I wouldn’t say that at any time we were in a rut. It was just a matter of us taking some time to make our own adjustments,” said Trocheck, who said the Rangers responded to the drought by giving him support on faceoffs and slowing down their tempo.

Kreider completed his hat trick — and the Rangers’ comeback — with 4:19 left in regulation. He was planted in front of the net and snapped a Ryan Lindgren pass into the net for a 4-3 lead that New York would never relinquish.

In true Kreider fashion, his three third-period goals measured just 18 feet in total distance.

“We had a decent number of come-from-behind wins in the regular season. We never felt like we were out of it,” Kreider said.

The Rangers haven’t been out of it all season. The Game 6 win was their 33rd comeback win between the regular season and the playoffs. That moved them into a tie with the 2006 Hurricanes and 1984 Oilers for the most in a season in NHL history.

Both of those teams would win the Stanley Cup in their respective seasons. Thanks to Kreider, the Rangers are now eight wins away from winning one for the first time since 1994.

“When our back was up against the wall going into the third period, the players in that room delivered against a really good hockey team,” Laviolette said.

Continue Reading