No one had a bigger afternoon than Chris Kreider, who scored his first career hat trick against an ex-coach that seemed to undermine his confidence at every turn last season.
It was a day full of redemption as beleaguered defenseman Michael Del Zotto also found his way back on the score sheet -- with a power-play goal no less! -- after spending the past two games as healthy scratch.
Rick Nash also delivered an impressive performance with a goal and two assists that helped lead the way as the Rangers improved to 14-13-0 on the season. Backup netminder Cam Talbot was stellar once again in making 35 saves, recording a win in his first start at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who traded places with Tortorella this summer, lambasted his team after a subpar effort Friday afternoon. Guess he got the desired result.
Kid Kreider: It sure looked like Kreider had something to prove Saturday. The 22-year-old forward, a player who struggled mightily under Tortorella last season, notched a pair of goals in the first period to give the Blueshirts a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Streaking through open ice, Kreider beat Roberto Luongo stick-side at 12:37 of the first and tipped Ryan McDonagh's shot for a power-play goal later in the frame.
He scored his third goal at 9:38 of the third period with a wicked deflection in front to make it 5-1.
Kreider’s standout performance had to be somewhat gratifying for the young forward, whose confidence seemed to be crushed from the consistent criticism he endured from Tortorella last season. Kreider, who made multiple trips to the minors on multiple occasions last year as well, has six goals on the season, only one shy of the team lead (Brad Richards, 7).
Rick’s on a roll: With his third goal in as many games, Nash seems to be gaining steam in his comeback from a concussion that sidelined him for more than a month earlier this season. Nash chipped in with a helper on Kreider’s first goal before tallying one of his own just 17 seconds into the second period. Nash’s fourth of the season prompted Tortorella to pull Luongo and replace him with backup netminder Eddie Lack.
Back in action: After sitting out for the past two games, Del Zotto notched a power-play goal to give the Rangers a decisive 4-0 lead in the second period. Del Zotto, scratched five of the past eight games, returned to the lineup in place of John Moore as trade speculation continues to follow the 23-year-old. Multiple teams have expressed interest in the former first-rounder (20th overall, 2008), who might have seen his stock increase with Saturday’s man-up marker.