Recap: Kreider’s Hat-Trick Leads NYR to Sixth Consecutive Win

Recap: Kreider’s Hat-Trick Leads NYR to Sixth Consecutive Win
Feb 15, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates with center Mika Zibanejad (93) after scoring a goal in the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Six wins in a row. Five different goal scorers from the Rangers. Four assists from Adam Fox. Three goals From Chris Kreider (and three assists from Panarin). Two points for Cuylle. One action packed, offensive showcase of a night. Despite falling to Montreal early in the game, the Rangers finally got their offense running at full speed which propelled them to quite an exciting win that keeps their streak running strong. Let’s break down all the action:

1st Period:

It wouldn’t be the best start to the game for the Rangers as it only took three and a half minutes for them to almost give up the game’s first goal. Brandon Gignac, who just scored his first NHL goal the other night, redirected a shot from Kaiden Guhle at the point which Quick was able to get a pad on. The rebound however, was right there for Gignac to take a whack at which sent it right to the back of the net. The officials immediately took a look at the play and rather quickly called it off stating that the initial play was hit with a high stick, therefore play was ruled dead from there.

Not long after the no goal, Jayden Strubel got his stick caught up high on MIka Zibanejad which gave the Rangers struggling power play a chance to shine against one of the league’s worst short handed teams. With the normal units back together, the Rangers could not muster up a shot on goal let alone a dangerous scoring chance, which would extend their scoreless drought to 18 powerless power plays.

Just over the midway point of the first period, Blake Wheeler took a hit from Strubel behind Montreal’s net. In a very similar scene to what happened with Kaapo Kakko earlier this year, Wheeler’s knee seemed to take a scary twist that left him unable to get up on his own. With assistance from Chris Kreider, he was able to get off the ice but the medical team ended up getting him on a stretcher. A tough scene at the Garden which certainly took a lot of the energy out of the building both from the fans and the Rangers alike. Hopefully the injury isn’t as bad as it looks and Wheeler is able to make a speedy, full recovery.

With five and a half to go in the period, a hard working shift from Montreal resulted in Josh Anderson throwing the puck on net. Jake Evans was left all alone right in front of the Rangers net and was able to put home the rebound to properly put his team on the board to make it a 1-0 game.

The Rangers had a couple of chances in the final five minutes of the period but again, it was a lot of giving up shots for passes and not sustaining much consistent pressure. At the end of the first, shots were 10-9 in favor of the Rangers. They had a significant advantage in face-offs but aside from that, things looked much better on Montreal’s side. A lot of room for the Rangers to clean up their game as they could also benefit from a big hit or something to spark some life back into their play.

2nd Period:

It was much the same to start the second period but it certainly wouldn’t stay that way. Through the first five minutes of play, Montreal was out-shooting the Rangers 5-1 as they were controlling most of the action. The Rangers had one shift where they caught Montreal’s skaters out there for a long shift and Kaapo Kakko had a real nice individual effort to apply pressure but other than that, the Rangers weren’t getting much done. At least not yet.

With word coming out that Blake Wheeler would not return to the game as expected, we saw quite the revolving door of right wingers on that top line with Zibanejad and Kreider. Kakko, Lafrenière, Jimmy Vesey, even Vincent Trocheck took shifts on the right side of those two in attempts to find something that would spark their lacking offense.

Just over the midway point of the night, Chris Kreider used his speed to find himself on a breakaway but Montembeault was able to turn the attempted five-hole shot away. As play continued, Zibanejad threw the puck back to Kreider who was lingering up high in the slot where he was able to snap a quick shot into the back of the net to tie the game up at one for his 25th of the season.

Montreal went right back to work as Cole Caufield had a strong opportunity going the other way with it but Jonathan Quick flashed the glove to make a big save. Just 78 seconds after the Kreider goal, the third line for the Rangers went to work off an offensive zone faceoff where Will Cuylle went hard to the net and was able to deflect a shot from Ryan Lindgren perfectly into the back of the net to give his team a 2-1 lead.

This certainly gave the Rangers some momentum as they followed up the goal with a rather dominant shift. However, it came to a quick halt as Vincent Trocheck was sent off for high sticking as he caught Mike Matheson up high. Barclay Goodrow found himself on a breakaway immediately after the Montreal power play got started but opted for the pass back to Jimmy Vesey which deflected off the leg of Matheson and into the corner.

As the man advantage to Montreal was coming to an end, Mika Zibanejad saw his best chance of the night and drew a penalty in the process. As the Rangers collected possession, they re-entered the zone as Artemiy Panarin fed a perfect cross ice pass to Zibanejad who let that famous one timer go to finally find the back of the net. Mika Zibanejad snaps a 20 game scoreless drought in terms of 5-v-5 play. Although, the goal would technically be credited as a shorthanded one as it was the Rangers net being empty on the delayed penalty that made the play 5-v-5.

Montreal opted to challenge the goal as they believed Kreider got in the way of Montembeault but the call on the ice would stand and the Rangers would end up getting the power play they were anticipating. Speaking of snapping goal droughts, the Rangers power play would also finally find the back of the net as Chris Kreider would pick up his second of the night after redirecting an Artemiy Panarin shot from the point. Four straight goals throughout a span of just over four minutes.

Montreal would bring the Rangers back down to earth a bit as Juraj Slafkovsky would sneak a quick shot through some traffic to beat Jonathan Quick to stop the bleeding.

In the final two minutes of the period, the team’s exchanged minor penalties in a timed out manor, perfect enough to leave the Rangers with a power play chance to start the third period. A tripping penalty that was originally assigned to K’Andre Miller was later deemed a penalty on Quick that would be served by Adam Edström. About 1:40 after that, Tanner Pearson collided with Adam Fox while trying to stay onside to earn an interference penalty. That would do it for an action packed second period that became quite the night and day game across two periods. Shots were now 25-19 in favor of the Rangers as they would look to close out what became their game heading into the games final period.

3rd Period:

The Rangers power play appeared to be back and firing on all cylinders but eventually, time ran out and the team’s returned to even strength. Just a couple of minutes later, Artemiy Panarin pulled the defender away from the play and threw the puck over to Vincent Trochek who let a quick shot go upon entering the zone. Initially, it looked like he beat Montembeault clean but it would end up being a goal for Alexis Lafrenière as it appeared he got a stick on it to make it a 5-2 game. Later on, the goal would be credited back to Trocheck.

On the following shift, Jonny Brodzinski would unintentionally send the puck over the glass to head to the penalty box for delay of game. The Rangers would end one up while shorthanded as a Cole Caufield shot managed to bounce off the skate of Quick into the back of the net. The Rangers quickly regained momentum as Mika Zibaneajd made a beautiful play to send a saucer pass over a sprawled out defender that Chris Kreider was able to tuck him for his third of the night, sixth hat-trick of his career.

It was quickly becoming a bit of a stat night for the Rangers but one player in particular who was having a strong game right from the get go was Kaapo Kakko. He would take the puck hard to the net to pull off a nice little move and sneak the puck past Montembeault to make it a 7-3 game. Adam Fox with a quiet four assist night in the process.

One of those nights where goals were aplenty and the goaltenders weren’t having fun. While Quick came up with some really key saves for the Rangers, especially earlier in the night, he let up a bit of a soft one for Cole Caufield’s second of the night which made it a 7-4 game. A couple of minutes after that, Alexis Lafrenière nearly scored on one leg but would draw a penalty to Jonathan Kovacevic for hooking. It wouldn’t be a full power play for the Rangers as Adam Fox was forced to take a slashing penalty on a shorthanded push from Mike Matheson.

With three minutes to go, the officials called yet another penalty, this time on Lafrenière for high-sticking. At this point, the game was pushing three hours and you just had the feeling that everyone was collectively ready to wrap this one up. Sure enough, the Rangers ate up those two minutes and wrapped rode out what became quite an incredible night for their offense. Finally count would be 7-4 Rangers as they managed to snap their power play slump and found a way to get Kreider and Zibanejad going again.

The Rangers will have a couple of days to prepare for their first meeting with their Long Island rivals as they take part in the NHL’s 2024 Stadium Series for a Sunday Afternoon outdoor showdown.