Chris Kreider leads Rangers charge with hat trick to top Canadiens

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Rangers, Thursday was a testament to the old adage of it’s not how you start, but rather how you finish.

After sleepwalking through the opening 20 minutes against the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers exploded for four goals in a 4:10 span in the second period, including two of Chris Kreider’s three goals on the night, to top the Canadiens, 7-4, for their sixth straight victory.

For Kreider, it was the sixth hat trick of his career, upping his season goal total to 27.

Related: Blake Wheeler suffers gruesome injury

New York Rangers 7 vs Montreal Canadiens 4

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing 1-0 midway through the second, it was the Rangers’ top players who led the reversal of fortune.

Kreider’s first tied the game at 11:09 when he buried a shot from the slot off a feed from Mika Zibanejad, which was followed just 1:18 later by Will Cuylle, who converted a cross ice pass by Ryan Lindgren for the 10th goal of his rookie campaign.

Less than 2 minutes later it was Zibanejad converting a one-timer from the circle off a pretty feed from Adam Fox while New York was short-handed for his second goal in three games.

Kreider book-ended the scoring for the Rangers with a power play goal that snapped an 0-for-18 drought with the man advantage.

Vincent Trocheck scored 4:23 into the third period to make it 5-2, and Kreider completed the hat trick after connecting with Zibanejad again at 7:59. Kaapo Kakko put an end to the Rangers scoring with 10:04 left.

All told, 11 different Rangers were on the score sheet. Fox had four assists, while Kreider, Zibanejad and Panarin all notched three points apiece.

And while it wasn’t his best performance, Jonathan Quick continues to win games. He finished with 31 saves to improve to 13-4-2 this season.

It wasn’t all good news for the Blueshirts as forward Blake Wheeler left the contest just 9:13 into the game. Wheeler was hit behind the net by Montreal’s Jayden Struble and fell awkwardly. He was unable to get up on his own and needed a stretcher after exiting the rink.

“You never want to see a teammate and a friend go down like that,” Zibanejad said. “It’s not just the impact he has on the ice, but off the ice as well. You never want to see that happen.”

The Rangers head outdoors next for a Stadium Series tilt against the New York Islanders at MetLife Stadium.

Matt Calamia spent six seasons as a digital content producer and writer for the New York Rangers. Prior to... More about Matt Calamia

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