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Rangers rally behind Kreider's natural hat trick to defeat Canes 5-3, ECF

May 17, 2024, 3:23 PM ET [35 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers once again showed their mettle, rallying for four goals in the third period Thursday to defeat the Hurricanes 5-3 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Chris Kreider, who missed Wednesday’s practice due to a maintenance day, put the Blueshirts on his back, tallying a natural hat trick. New York will next face the winner or the Boston-Florida series.

Game recap:

A few thoughts: 
1) The game - sports is a microcosm of life as the emotion can take you from great lows to great highs in the blink of an eye. Yesterday, that was certainly the case. Ask any Rangers fan how they were doing after the first 40 minutes and the response received would rightly be vastly different than what was received post game. Similar can be said of any Hurricanes fan in the inverse. But the end result made all the pain and suffering worth it.

Rumors are abound that the flu made its way through the Rangers' locker room. If true, and it's possibl Filip Chytil's illness was this, that could explain the lack of jump we saw in Game 5. The days off before the next round will be highly welcomed.

The watch party at msg was pretty cool. Odd to watch with thousands on a screen and have the same emotions shared, but when they one, the collective vibe was amazing. Tom Laidlaw, Ron Greschner, Brian Mullen and Colton Orr were in the building.

New York had a fairly solid first period even though they were unable to generate many shots on net. Of their 25 shot attempts, only three required a save by Frederik Andersen. Unfortunately, late in the period, Carolina took advantage of a brain cramp by several Rangers to give Carolina a 1-0 lead.

Igor Shesterkin allowed a shot to go wide that he could have and probably should have grabbed. Martin Necas finished a check on Ryan Lindgren in the corner. A good Dmitry Orlov pinch moved the puck to Jordan Martinook behind the net. Adam Fox chased him, which allowed Martinook to center the puck to a wide-open Necas in front of the net for a shot over Igor’s left shoulder to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead with 1:22 left. Lindgren was late in recovery, Fox was in the wrong spot while Alex Wennberg looked to be skating figure eights and Kaapo Kakko was nowhere to be seen.

One general comment is that I thought the ice was horrible last night. The puck seemed to be jumping all night while several players from both sides wiped out during the game. A handful of odd man rushes resulted from both situations in the prior sentence.

In the second, New York picked up their play from the first period. A Carolina penalty was negated by Kreider’s cross-checking penalty on Seth Jarvis to thwart a shorthanded chance. The Canes took advantage as Andrei Svechnikov’s shot from the point was deflected by Sebastian Aho, who was all over the place last night. Carolina had two men down low and Seth Jarvis banged it home. Not enough pressure on the puck, Mika Zibanjead had two Canes to try and guard down low and Fox was out of position, At this point, it started to look bleak.

New York, though, as they did all year, and of course later, rallied. The Trocheck trio put on some sustained pressure, Panarin had a wrist shot stopped by Andersen but Orlov turned the puck over, failing to clear the zone. Panarin put a shot on net with Andersen out of position that was tipped by Trocheck to make it 2-1 with 14:31 left. The Rangers then started to carry play and push for the tying goal, a bit too hard based on the next sequence.

K'Ande Miller pinched against the boards with the thought process he could seal off Svechnikov or Jimmy Vesey was back far enough to cover for him, neither was accurate. Svechnikov chipped the puck by him, leading directly to Aho breaking away from Vesey for a goal high over Igor's glove that made it 3-1 with 10:37 remaining.

Then came what looked to be the backbreaker and highlight that appeared doomed to be repeated forever as the defining moment of the series. Off a high chip from the blue line, Kreider was able to corral the puck and make a beautiful backhand dish to a streaking Lindgren, who had his offensive mojo working yesterday. Lindgren went five-hole and his shot hit off the inside of Andersen's leg and started to trickle towards crossing the goal line. Martinook, sliding towards the goal after diving to try and stop Lindgren, saved a goal by getting his stick out and sweeping the puck away from fully crossing the line at the last split second. The entire Watch Party groaned at the same instance.

Igor kept the team in the game, making a big save on Jake Guentzel. Then in one of several posts hit by Carolina, Jack Drury's shot beat Igor and went ping to keep it 3-1 after two. The Rangers were largely outplayed by the surging Canes for two periods. In the second, Carollina had 13 shots on goal and six high-danger scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Most of us felt it may be all she wrote and started thinking about Game 7. But the team rallied itself as they did all year in the locker room and found a way to get it done. The leaders stepped up in the locker room and on the ice while a few unlikely candidates found their game in the last frame.

Starting the third, the tide did not look like it had turned. Martinook, whose line with Necas and Evgeny Kuznetsov dominated most of the night, hit the post. Carolina kept coming and Igor made a handful of good saves to keep it a two-goal game, including one in front of Jordan Staal off a broken play, while Guentzel hit the post as well.

On a seemingly innocuous play, Zibanejad, off a feed from Jack Roslovic, who did a 180 in the locker room between the second and third period as he was brutal the first 40 minutes, shot a puck off Andersen's skate by the goal post. Andersen's issues of sealing the post and with pucks at his feet bit him again, as Kreider stuffed in the backhand just inside the post at the 6:43 mark to make it 3-2 and give New York life.

The Rangers started to push. But that almost came to a halt, as a pair of Rangers collided at the blue line, ending Aho in alone. His backhand went wide of the post, keeping it 3-2. Igor robbed Staal again, then shortly thereafter a Brady Skeji puck shot over the glass was not called, drawing the ire of the MSG attendees. But Staal was penalized for a cross-check on Zib that left Staal shell-shocked and Rod Briind'Amour livid.

Kreider went to work again. New York did little early but stayed with it. Trocheck found Panarin up high in the middle. Panarin created some space and got a shot on net that Kreider tipped in  to tie the game at the 11:54 mark and it was pure bedlam.

Now the Rangers had the momentum and carried play. They cycled the puck, Roslovic dropped it to Lindgren, who circled the net and put a pass in front. Kreider got inside position on Jalen Chatfield at the top of the crease, in front of Dmitry Orlov, and tipped in the puck past Andersen to make it 4-3 at the 15:41 mark. The three goals, a natural hat trick as well, gave CK20 47 career playoff goals, atop the franchise's all-time list. Kreider said between the second and third intermissions he would get one, he got three.

Big time players make big time plays and step up when needed. Kreider has done that since he came off the BC campus and scored in the playoffs. He likely will end up the franchise's all-time leader in goals with his jersey up in the rafters, sealed by a night like Game 6.

The game, though, was not over then. Carolina refused to go away and pulled Andersen with three minutes remaining. Igor stoned Svechnikov with 2:39 left to keep the lead. Off a faceoff win, Brady Skeji was stopped, one of the 16 shots Shesterkin turned aside in the final stanza. Then New York iced the puck, once, twice, three, four times, adding to the drama. Finally, Barclay Goodrow sealed the win with a 145-foot shot into the empty net with 48.1 seconds remaining to make it 5-3 and basically end the game.

Photo after the empty-net goal:

MSG after the final buzzer:

33rd and 7th after the game:

As Larry Brooks noted, "much like the 1994 Game 6 Devils, the 2024 Game 6 Canes had numerous, glorious opportunities to salt it away. They couldn’t." Just like in that game, New York rallied behind a 33-year old forward, so too the Rangers did last night.

Eastern Conference Finals, here they come.

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