Chris Kreider plucks Penguins late, Rangers win 4-2
The New York Rangers played a strong game against the Pittsburgh Penguin but needed a hero to save them anyway. Chris Kreider scored twice in the third period to lift the Rangers in a crucial contest Thursday night at the Garden.
Kreider recorded goal 29 on the season with 8:15 remaining in the game and added his 30th into an empty net to seal the victory.
“The division is tight. Playoff race is tight,” Kreider said. “It’s a big win, a big divisional win. These are four-point games.”
This was the second of three games between the two squads in the span of seven days. With each team picking up a win, the rubber match comes on Saturday night. The Rangers are currently 10 points up on the Penguins for third in the Metro Division.
Chris Kreider lifts New York Rangers
The Blueshirts came out flying with Mika Zibanejad scoring just 2:51 into the opening frame. Beginning with strong defensive work in the d-zone, Vladimir Tarasenko got the puck over to Artemi Panarin. A quick outlet pass set up Zibanejad on a breakaway as he went top-shelf over Tristan Jarry for his 35th goal of the year.
An early power play presented an opportunity for the Rangers to truly assert themselves in the contest, but it didn’t work out.
The Penguins slowly changed the momentum in their favor and Rickard Rakell evened the score at the 14:40 mark of the second period.
Tyler Motte would provide some foreshadowing as a mishandled puck by a Penguins defender turned into a goal just 2:13 later. It was a quick response that seemed to keep the Rangers always one step ahead in the contest.
“It’s good to see one go in the net,” Motte said. “I think you want to play this style of hockey as much as you can in the regular season. Teams are battling for position and to play the right way. To play this way right now is good for our group and we’ll look to keep it going.”
Jake Guentzel would knot the game at 9:09 of the third period, burying a feed from Sidney Crosby in the slot. Despite the tally, Igor Shesterkin was rock solid throughout, stopping 30 shots for his 31st win of the season.
The hero of the game responded 2:36 later battling Pens’ defenseman Brian Dumoulin in front. A tip by Vincent Trocheck hit him in the skate and into prime scoring position for the game-winning goal past Jarry.
Kreider combined with Trocheck and Zibanejad for the empty netter with 49.2 seconds left in the game.
“Good hockey game,” Gerard Gallant said. “Real happy with our group tonight. Lines are playing well and everyone is working together.”