Scorching hot Chris Kreider leads Rangers into Columbus

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Jan 24, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates with New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) after scoring a power play goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider already joined some elite company in the extensive history of the New York Rangers when it took him just 43 games to score 30 goals.

Kreider looks to add to his league-leading total and the Rangers hope to continue their roll Thursday night when they visit the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets for their final road game before the All-Star break.

Kreider having an amazing season

Kreider is one goal one ahead of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl for the league lead. The New York winger scored for the sixth straight game when he netted a power-play goal Monday in the Rangers’ pulsating 3-2 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings that was decided on Adam Fox’s goal in the sixth round of the shootout.

“The best thing about playing hockey is winning games,” Kreider said. “From a personal standpoint, scoring goals helps our team win. If I can keep doing that and helping our team win, that’s all that matters.”

Kreider became the fourth player in team history to reach 30 goals in 43 or fewer games, joining Don Murdoch (1976-77), Rod Gilbert (1971-72) and Bill Cook (1930-31, 1926-27). He also is the third player in team history to become the NHL’s first 30-goal scorer, joining Lynn Patrick (1941-42) and Cook.

Kreider has nine goals during his career-high streak and is the first Ranger with goals in six straight games since Mika Zibanejad (2019-20).

New York Rangers rolling despite injuries

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Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Kreider’s roll has helped the Rangers earn nine wins in 12 games. With four games left before the break, they are looking to finish strong and get off to better starts after being outshot 16-4 in the opening period on Monday.

“Every game is a big game, but we’ve got four to that break and it would be nice to get some good wins for sure and set the tone for when we come back,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said after Wednesday’s practice.

The Rangers were without Kaapo Kakko in the last game due to injury, and will be without defenseman Patrik Nemeth again as well. Meanwhile, Filip Chytil left the win against the Kings after the first period is possible.

“Chytil is day-to-day, and Nemeth is personal (reasons),” Gallant said. “There’s a chance [Chytil] will (travel to Columbus), but Nemeth won’t.”

Julien Gauthier is likely to remain on the first line with Kaapo Kakko on IR.

“When he plays his game, it’s a lot of speed,” the coach said of Gauthier. “He drives the net. He scored his goal in the blue paint (against Arizona). I want to give him an opportunity and he deserves it.”

Gauthier, 24, has 3 goals and 6 points in 30 games this season.

You can check out all NYR and NHL injuries here on our site.

Columbus struggling

Columbus has been outscored 13-3 during a three-game losing streak and has allowed 22 goals in its past four losses. The Blue Jackets have allowed at least five goals 11 times, and they dropped to 0-11-0 in those games after falling 6-0 to the visiting Calgary Flames on Wednesday when they were outshot by a whopping 62-23 margin.

According to STATS, it was the most shots by a visiting team in a regular-season game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1955-56. The Blue Jackets were outshot 46-14 in the final two periods, when they allowed five goals.

“You don’t have to dissect this,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “They were the better team. They had the puck all night. We were not nearly good enough.”

Columbus is 6-15-1 since winning 12 of its first 18 contests, including 1-6-0 in its past seven home games. The Blue Jackets also have allowed at least five goals in nine games since the quick start.

“There’s gonna be some inconsistencies within a season,” Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said. “I just think the gaps are too far. We can play a really good game and then play a really bad game and there’s no middle ground in that.”

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–Field Level Media contributed to this article

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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