New York Rangers: Chris Kreider

LOS ANGELES -- There will certainly be time over the next two days for Chris Kreider to rue that pair of glorious chances in the first overtime period that he just could not bury.

A cross-country flight back to New York, for example, will provide ample opportunity for him to mull them over. He could spent hours replaying those shots, second-guessing his approach, staring down Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick from within the recesses of his memory.

The 23-year-old forward vowed to avoid that temptation. He doesn’t want those regrets to linger, frustration to fester as he readies himself for Game 3 on Monday. Following the New York Rangers’ 5-4 double-overtime loss in Game 2 Saturday night, there are desperate times ahead for him and his teammates, who now face a daunting task ahead while in a 2-0 hole as the series shifting back home.

[+] EnlargeChris Kreider
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsChris Kreider had chances to win Game 2 in overtime.
“Nope,” Kreider responded, when asked if those chances will be difficult for him to digest in the next 48 hours. “They’re difficult to think about 20 to 30 minutes after the game, but on to the next one.”

In another heart-racing, white-knuckled ending to an already wild and unpredictable game, the Kings and Rangers traded prime scoring chances in overtime, testing the blood pressure of just about everyone watching.

Kreider, whose speed, size and strength has added a dangerous dynamic to the Rangers' offense this entire spring, had arguably the best of the first overtime period, when he faced Quick on a breakaway at 16:22 of the frame.

It originally looked like Kreider missed wide left, but Quick actually got a piece of the shot.

“He stopped it. Tried to go low [blocker]. Probably should've gone high [blocker]. It was a good save by him,” Kreider said. “You've got to finish there. There's nothing else to say."

Kreider had three shots total in the first overtime frame, one that followed a sloppy yet entertaining 60 minutes of regulation during which the Rangers saw another two-goal lead disappear. Neither Quick nor Henrik Lundqvist yielded anything in the first overtime period, but the Kings prevailed in the second one with a tip in front from Kings captain Dustin Brown.

“I don’t think anything changes. I think a couple crazy bounces. A couple crazy plays. Stuff goes in for them. Stuff didn’t go in for us,” Kreider said. “That’s hockey. It’s not always fair.”

His teammate Carl Hagelin can empathize with how Kreider must be feeling right now. The speedy winger had a similarly spectacular chance to end the game in the final minute of regulation in Game 1 on a breakaway, but a rolling puck prevented him from putting the game away and the Rangers lost on a bad bounce and defensive-zone gaffe that resulted in Justin Williams’ overtime winner.

“It’s never fun. It’s always good when you’re creating chances, but in games like this when it’s so close you want to make sure to score on the chances. It’s nothing you can think about too much. You’ve got to just refocus and try to get a goal in the next game,” Hagelin said.

Kreider, who picked up a secondary assist on Martin St. Louis’ power-play goal in the second period, has been a key contributor for the Rangers’ deep run this spring. The quintessential power forward has chipped in with four goals and seven assists, and has been an impactful net front presence, particularly on the power play.

The Rangers can’t afford for him to dwell on a few missed chances Saturday night. They need him back at it Monday when the Blueshirts host the Kings at Madison Square Garden.

“He’ll come back strong in Game 3,” said defenseman Anton Stralman, who was brooding over his own missed scoring opportunity in overtime as he slunk back in his dressing room stall. “He works hard. He’s fast. It’s always tough when you can’t score. I had a great chance in overtime, so that’s obviously bothering me right now. It’s a matter of putting that behind us and focusing on the next game.”

Kreider plans on moving past it just as swiftly as he dissected Saturday’s dispiriting defeat.

“We blew another two-goal lead. We lost in overtime. I had two Grade-A opportunities and didn't finish, so I have to execute better,” he said. “ I think that's my takeaway, ultimately."
LOS ANGELES -- Just call them the Comeback Kings.

For the second straight game, the Los Angeles Kings stunned the New York Rangers with a manic and frenzied come-from-behind victory, knocking off the Blueshirts with a 5-4 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead as both clubs head back to New York for Games 3 and 4. The Kings have not led in regulation at any point throughout the first two games of Stanley Cup finals, and yet they won both contests.

Kings captain Dustin Brown scored the winning goal, snapping a 4-4 draw in double overtime to end what was a wildly entertaining playoff match that spanned more than four hours and featured a little bit of everything.

The Rangers, who squandered a 2-0 lead in Game 1 Wednesday night, held another 2-0 lead Saturday, a 3-1 and 4-2 advantage as well, but they couldn’t shut the door on the feisty Kings.

The Kings refused to go quietly despite staring down a 4-2 deficit in the third period, but their third goal did not come without a bit of the controversy.

Dwight King tipped one in for a goal that ignited a plucky Kings squad intent on staging another comeback, but both defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist were livid after the play, arguing with the nearest official about King’s contact with Lundqvist in the crease -- contact that they clearly felt impeded Lundqvist’s ability to make a save.

You could sense the Rangers start to unravel from there, with the Kings buzzing, the crowd getting into it, and the (dreadful) ice tilting in L.A.’s favor. So it was no surprise when leading playoff goal-scorer, and ex-Ranger Marian Gaborik tied the game at 7:36 with his 13th playoff goal this spring.

Rangers forward Chris Kreider has a pair of Grade-A chances in a enthralling overtime period, but couldn't find the back of the net.

Fast and furious: Just as they did in Game 1, the Kings made a big push in the second period. Los Angeles cut the Rangers’ 2-0 lead in half when Jarret Stoll buried the puck into an open net with Lundqvist down on his rear after making an initial save. Martin St. Louis continued his terrific spring, one-timing a shot past Jonathan Quick on the power-play to reclaim a two-goal Rangers lead -- his seventh goal of these playoffs. But when the Kings threatened again, pulling within a goal for the second time on Willie Mitchell’s man-up marker at 14:39, the Rangers made sure to snuff out the surge quickly. The Blueshirts responded in just 11 seconds with a goal from Derick Brassard to take a 4-2 lead into the third period. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that 11-second span was the quickest between two goals scored in a Stanley Cup finals game in 67 years.

Déjà vu: Stop me if this sounds familiar: Kings look sloppy with the puck (granted, the ice also appeared horrendous) and an opportunistic Rangers squad build a 2-0 first-period lead. The Rangers got on the board with defenseman Ryan McDonagh’s hard slapper from the left point at 10:48 of the first, a goal that was created by hard forechecking pressure that forced Game 1 hero Justin Williams to turn the puck over deep in his own zone. A flubbed pass from defenseman Matt Greene later in the period resulted in a sequence of scoring chances for New York that was capped by Mats Zuccarello’s rebound goal at the right post with 7:17 remaining in the period. The Rangers took a two-goal lead in Game 1, but the Kings came charging back for a 3-2 overtime win.

Surprising scratch: Though Kings coach Darryl Sutter said veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr would “probably play” and the 34-year-old himself admitted he was ready to return to the lineup after missing more than a month with a knee injury, Regehr was scratched for the second straight game this series. Though he took part in the pregame warmups, Greene remained in the starting lineup instead. Meanwhile, John Moore returned to bolster the Rangers’ back end after serving a two-game suspension for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise in the Eastern Conference finals.

Meet the Blueshirts: Chris Kreider

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
Chris KreiderAl Bello/Getty Images
Position: LW
Number: 20
Age: 23
Born: Boxford, Massachusetts
Height: 6-3
Weight: 226
How Acquired: Selected by the Rangers in the first round (No. 19 overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

In case you didn’t know ...

• The Rangers are 7-3 in the playoffs since Kreider returned from injury. No surprise there. The top-line winger has been a point-per-game player in the postseason, and he’s done a lot of other things that haven’t shown up on the statsheet.

• Kreider burst on the scene as a 20-year-old kid fresh out of Boston College. He scored an NHL-record five playoff goals before playing in his first-ever regular-season game.

• Kreider came under fire in the Eastern Conference finals for crashing into Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in Game 1. Price missed the entire series as a result. He had previously crashed into Craig Anderson and Marc-Andre Fleury previously, leading many to wonder if he had done so on-purpose.

Click here for the rest of our series.
PITTSBURGH -- The New York Rangers’ Game 5 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins will be remembered for the way the team stood behind teammate Martin St. Louis, who played despite the death of his mother just one day prior. However, overshadowed in what was a touching show of support in the 5-1 win was that the team’s woeful power play had a terrific night after an extended stretch of failures.

The Rangers scored a pair of man-up markers against the Penguins, finally halting a slump that seemed interminable. Prior to Friday’s action, the Blueshirts had been blanked on 36 straight attempts, a skid that lasted nine games.

That ended 9:36 into play in Game 5 when Chris Kreider buried a rebound for a 1-0 Rangers lead.

“The big thing is scoring a power play early,” veteran center Brad Richards said. “That took a little weight off us. We talked about it the other night. You get something to go your way early. It’s amazing what it can do. It gets contagious and you start building.”

For a team that was riding an emotional spark, trying to avoid elimination, and attempting to keep the Penguins on their heels, Kreider’s goal provided the necessary boost of confidence.

From there, they built on that lead and, despite Evgeni Malkin’s spectacular second-period goal, were able to keep Pittsburgh from scratching their way back into the game. With the game 2-1 in the second period, the Penguins were whistled for a bench minor for too many men on the ice. It took defenseman Ryan McDonagh just 16 seconds into the man-advantage to cash in, notching his first goal of the playoffs with his slapshot from the right point that beat Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

Not only was it a critical goal that effectively stemmed the penguins’ surge, it was an important night for McDonagh, who has had a disappointing series.

The young defenseman, who missed the last five regular-season games, finished with a goal and an assist in a strong bounce-back performance.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was pleased with what he saw.

“I don’t want to say it was the first time we saw Ryan McDonagh in the playoffs,” Vigneault said. But that’s the way I know he can play, that’s the way we need him to play.”

In fact, Vigneault preemptively squashed speculation that McDonagh may be playing through injury, a theory that gained steam the more one-on-one battles he lost, and the more lackluster games he had.

“He’s not hurt,” Vigneault said “And he needs to play that way.”

W2W4: Rangers vs. Hurricanes

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
At a glance: The New York Rangers have already clinched a playoff spot -- well, technically, Karri Ramo and the Calgary Flames took care of that with their 1-0 blanking of the New Jersey Devils on Monday night -- but they don’t plan on letting up in the final three games of the regular season. Considering that home-ice advantage is still up for grabs in the Metropolitan Division, the Rangers aim to snatch another two points beginning Tuesday night, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

Last time around: In the two clubs’ last meeting, the Rangers had one of their most embarrassing performances of the season. Outworked from start to finish against the Hurricanes, the Rangers surrendered two points in a 3-1 loss without putting up much of a fight. The team expressed both disappointment and disgust with the lackluster effort. Though the Canes are out of the playoff hunt, the Rangers seemed to have learned a valuable lesson: not to overlook any team on any given night.

Back on track: Although the team has won seven of its last 10 games, the Rangers have dropped two straight -- not the type of hiccup they want as they gear up for the playoffs. Coming off losses to Colorado and Ottawa, the Rangers aim to reassert themselves as a team that can do damage in an Eastern Conference that, with the exception of the dominant Boston Bruins, seems to be wide open.

Hitting the mark: Even though he missed a significant chunk of time with a hand injury sustained during the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Mats Zuccarello is having a career year for the Rangers. The diminutive Norwegian winger, who tallied twice in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Senators, needs just one more goal to record the first 20-goal season of his NHL career. He has already eclipsed his previous career highs with 19 goals and 57 points.

Help on the horizon: In what may have been the most encouraging news of the day for the Rangers, top defenseman Ryan McDonagh participated in the team’s optional morning skate Tuesday -- a good sign for his potential availability in the playoffs. McDonagh, who is sidelined with a day-to-day injury to his left shoulder, may rejoin the Rangers for practice as soon as Wednesday. Though coach Alain Vigneault is undecided whether he will play McDonagh before the postseason, he sounded optimistic about the 24-year-old blueliner’s progress. Chris Kreider (hand) also skated Tuesday morning, but did not do any stickhandling with his injured left hand still in a cast. Kreider is out indefinitely.

Kreider tallies twice in Rangers' win

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers' 1-0 lead against a dangerous -- and desperate -- Detroit Red Wings team wasn’t enough for comfort heading into the third period.

But the Blueshirts got what they needed almost as soon as the puck dropped on the final session, as Chris Kreider tallied twice to seal the Rangers’ 3-0 win against the Wings Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

[+] EnlargeKreider (center) celebrates with Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash after lighting it up vs. Detroit.
Elsa/Getty Images
Jostling for position in front of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, Kreider tipped a blast from defenseman Ryan McDonagh just 14 seconds into play. Then he put his speed to good use, putting the finishing touches on a 2-on-1 rush that gave the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead against the Wings at 12:11.

Though it was goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s day that will be remembered -- his 30-save shutout allowed him to record his 300th NHL win, just one shy of Mike Richter’s franchise record -- Kreider’s contributions did not go unnoticed.

It was Kreider’s second multi-goal game and, though the 22-year-old winger has three goals and four points in the last five games, he played just 9:45 in Friday’s 4-2 win over Carolina.

Kreider said that was a “gut check” type of game for the team, but perhaps the diminished ice time sparked him as well?

“Nothing changes,” he said. “Same approach, same mentality.”

Both Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan finished with a pair of assists on Kreider’s third-period goals to extend their point streaks to four and six games, respectively.

The Rangers have now won two straight heading into the final month of the season. Meanwhile, the Red Wings, who have not missed the playoffs since 1990, fell out of the playoff picture for now with the regulation loss.

“It was definitely, for both teams, a playoff-type game. Everybody is bunched together and Detroit plays that type of game where there isn’t a lot of space or room on the ice,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “You have to fight through that and you have to make sure you make the high-percentage plays and keep making those plays and that’s what we did.”

Rangers' deflection leads to dejection

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers had a chance to do what they had not done yet this season -- string together five straight wins -- but instead they squandered the opportunity with a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Riding a four-game winning streak and looking to bank an extra pair of points heading into the Olympic break, the Rangers dropped the ball in the first period with a stretch of sloppy play.

Still, it was a winnable game against an Edmonton team that entered as winners in four of their last five games, and the Rangers let at least a point slip away with a series of miscues that led to the Oilers’ deciding goal in the final minutes of play.

With 1:38 remaining in regulation, former first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov had both the time and space to fire from the slot -- a sizzling shot that beat backup netminder Cam Talbot on a deflection off a Rangers player's stick.

"Five puck battles. We lost 'em all and it ended up in the back of our net," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who was clearly disappointed about the result.

Talbot, making his first start since Jan. 21, was clearly not too pleased about the coverage breakdown, either.

"As a team, we gotta, with a minute-and-a-half left, we have to have the coverage in our end and know when their top line is out there," said Talbot, who was saddled with his second straight loss. "We can't leave a guy alone in the slot like that."

And how did he feel about his own performance?

"As far as my play, I felt I played pretty well and gave us a chance to win until the end there. It took a deflection off [Chris Kreider's] stick to beat us. We probably deserved a point or two tonight," said Talbot, who finished with 29 saves.

It's worth pointing out, however, that the Oilers probably should have taken a 2-1 lead earlier in the game on what would've been a power-play marker at 10:57 of the second period that was nullified when a quick whistle blew the play dead before the puck crossed the line.

It was the only power play of the game during a rare night in which the officials left quite a few calls on the ice. There was a blatant tripping call on Yakupov that went unnoticed in the first period, and an ugly elbow on Zuccarello later in the game that was also either missed or ignored.

After the game, players admitted the officials let a lot go, though it went both ways. The sense was that both teams got away with a few Thursday night.

"There definitely could have been penalties called," said veteran center Brad Richards. "I'm not blaming the refs, but there definitely could have been penalties called."

Derick Brassard was the lone goal scorer for the Rangers, tying the score early in the second period with a one-timer from the right faceoff circle to snap netminder Ben Scrivens' shutout streak at Madison Square Garden this season at 80 minutes 22 seconds.

The Rangers must now regroup for one more game before they disband for the Olympic break, and they have a tough test before them in the Eastern-conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

Sochi-bound Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have won eight of their last 11 to stretch their lead on the Rangers to 17 points within the Metropolitan Division.

"It's a big game. They are a good team and we have to move by this and learn from it," said Marc Staal. "We have to be better tomorrow and try to get the win."

Surging Isles snap Rangers' win streak

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
NEW YORK -- Polar vortex be damned, the Islanders are heating up.

With their 10th win in the past 13 games, the plucky Islanders rallied from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the New York Rangers 5-3 at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, snapping the Rangers' three-game winning streak in the first of three meetings between the two clubs over the next 12 days.

[+] EnlargeThomas Vanek
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesThomas Vanek scored the game-winning goal with 4:38 left in the third period.
With the come-from-behind victory, the Islanders have now won nine of their past 11 road games.

The team's top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo had what Rangers coach Alain Vigneault described as "quite an evening," combining for seven points among them.

Tavares and Vanek connected late in the third for what stood up as the game winner, executing a beautiful power-play goal to take a 4-3 lead at 4:38 after the Rangers were whistled for a too-many-men bench minor.

Tavares finished the night with a team-leading three assists.

"The whole game didn't feel totally right," said alternate captain Brad Richards.

Indeed, even when the Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first compliments of Rick Nash's second straight multigoal game (and third in the course of a nine-game span), it never really felt like they had control of the game. The Islanders looked and played desperate, buzzing from the beginning, controlling the puck, and generating chances on Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot, who started in place of Henrik Lundqvist (flu).

When the Islanders cut the lead in half on Matt Martin's goal with 2:38 remaining in the first period, there was the sense that the game was going to take a turn.

"They were hungry," Nash said. "They played a good road game."

In contrast, the Rangers did not show that same level of intensity. Instead, they seemed to surrender some of the confidence and moxie they have shown of late.

"I think we were a little flat, especially at the start of the first period," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We couldn't find our jump."

Though the Rangers had built a 3-1 lead following Chris Kreider's power-play marker in the second period -- the speedy winger finished the night with three points -- the Islanders just kept battling.

The Rangers struggled in their own end through stretches, allowing the Isles to capitalize and tie the game in the second period. A pretty passing sequence led to Thomas Hickey's third goal of the season at 13:22 of the second period and Colin McDonald buried a rebound to knot the score at 3 with 3:24 remaining in the middle frame.

"They were coming at us hard," said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. "You have to give them credit, they were coming."

Though the Islanders remain in last place in the Metropolitan Division, they sit only five points back of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. That enough is fuel for the Islanders, who made their first playoff appearance in six years last spring, to keep fighting for a postseason berth.

Is the belief still alive in the room?

"Absolutely," McDonald told Tuesday morning before the game. "Especially because of last year, making that push."

Meanwhile, the Rangers came down to earth after a fine week in which they downed the Red Wings, Senators and Capitals.

They let up on the gas Tuesday night and they were saddled with a loss as a result.

"We wanted to keep that streak going," Stralman said. "We didn't put forth a good enough effort to continue it."

Lundqvist: 'I have some work to do'

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
NEW YORK -- Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots on the night, including six in overtime, but lamented that he couldn't come up with more saves in Monday's 4-3 loss in the shootout to the Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist allowed each of the first two shooters in the shootout to score, while the Rangers were blanked on each of their first two attempts.

"I think the difference tonight is I didn't stop the breakaways and [Sergei Bobrovsky] did, one in the second and in the shootout," Lundqvist said. "I have some work to do."

In what's been a frustrating year for Lundqvist, he fell to 12-16-3 with Monday's defeat. The first goal he allowed came off a deflection, while the second one was a breakaway in which he was unable to stymie Columbus' Cam Atkinson. He was outstanding in overtime as Columbus barraged him with shots, and held up during a 4-on-3 to close out the overtime stanza.

In the shootout, he was beat by Mark Letestu and Ryan Johansen.

"I made some good moves but I still need to stop those," Lundqvist said. "That's a big point. I felt like the timing was better in Florida the last time we had the shootout but today I didn't come up big when I needed to. In a shootout it's a lot on the goalie, but I just need to work on it in practice and get the timing better."

KREIDER SUSPENSION FOR TYUTIN HIT? Rangers coach Alain Vigneault does not expect Rangers forward Chris Kreider to be suspended for his hit on Fedor Tyutin that resulted in him being ejected in the second period.

"I don't think so," Vigneault said of a possible suspension.

Early in the second period, Kreider hit Tyutin face-first into the boards and was hit with a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct that resulted in his dismissal. It appeared Kreider tried to pull up before hitting Tyutin, but was too late. Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky, a former Ranger, threw some punches at Kreider after the hit but the two didn't come close to brawling.

Tyutin took some time to get up and played just one more shift, which was brief. Kreider, who was involved in his first fight in Saturday's win over Toronto, had an assist on the Rangers' first goal. He has six points in his last nine games.

Vigneault did not indicate that he believed Kreider dished out a dirty hit.

"I looked at the replay quickly -- he tried to stop just before. You can see he's stopping and sort of a follow-through from their player there," Vigneault said. "Anytime a guy gets pushed into the boards the way he did the referee doesn't have much of a choice."

STRALMAN'S BIG MISTAKE: Following Kreider's ejection, the Blue Jackets took a 2-1 lead just 40 seconds after when defenseman Anton Stralman turned the puck over near center ice and Atkinson beat Lundqvist on a breakaway.

"I was trying to kind of half shoot a puck into (Brad Richards) there, saw he was open for a half-tip play," Stralman said. "Took off his skate and bounced in the zone and he was just too fast for me to handle it, come back. It's obviously a bad mistake."

Blueshirts show spark in shootout win

December, 15, 2013
NEW YORK -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has been searching for signs of a spark within his wayward club, proof that his new charges hadn't flat-lined on the table less than halfway through the season.

Sunday night, he finally got the response he had been hoping for as the Rangers rallied from behind twice to ultimately knock off the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout win that snapped a demoralizing four-game losing streak.

[+] EnlargeHenrik Lundqvist
Scott Levy/NHLI/Getty ImagesHenrik Lundqvist celebrates the Rangers shootout win over the Flames.
After Chris Kreider notched his second third-period game-tying goal in eight days, Benoit Pouliot tallied the shootout winner in the seventh round to give the Blueshirts their first win of a nine-game homestand.

Heading into Sunday's match against the Flames, the Rangers had earned only one of eight possible points through the first four games at Madison Square Garden, squandering valuable ground in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division standings.

"You look at the games this year and you talk about a kick-back or a push-back and tonight was a good night for us to push back," said Derek Stepan.

Stepan, who halted his own skid with a first-period marker that cut a 2-0 Flames lead in half, scored his first goal in 11 games and picked up an assist on Kreider's late equalizer that pushed the game into overtime.

The Rangers had the chance to put the Flames away in regulation with 1:21 of 5-on-3 power-play time with less than four minutes remaining, but Kreider took an ill-advised four-minute hooking penalty that negated the team's best chance man-up opportunity of the night.

The Rangers delivered with an inspired penalty-killing effort to preserve the 3-3 tie and run out the remainder of Kreider's double-minor in overtime, leading the team to its first shootout of the season.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made a season-high sixth straight start, had two chances to end it in the shootout before he denied Mikael Baklund in the seventh round.

It was a morale boost not just for the team, which entered the match a dreadful 13th in the conference standings, but also for Lundqvist.

The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner, whose play has dipped this season, seemed relieved to finally secure two points.

"When you are in a position like this, you can feel sorry for yourself and just lay down, but we kept working really hard. We wanted this one," he said. "Every game now we can see as an opportunity for us to turn this around."

Vigneault was encouraged to see the type of fight from his team that has been so obviously lacking in recent weeks. He praised his players for both their character and resilience.

"There were quite a few moments that tested us," he said. "We were down by two early and had a kill to make at a critical time. We found a way, twice, to come back in this game, which is something we haven't done often this year. There are quite a few elements that, hopefully, we can build on."

The Rangers have four games remaining on this homestand, with the injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Penguins next on the schedule this Wednesday.

The team hopes Sunday's victory serves as the first step towards turning things in the right direction.

Said Kreider:

"It was the consummate team win."

Rapid Reaction: Devils 4, Rangers 3

December, 7, 2013
NEW YORK -- The Rangers secured a point in pushing the game to overtime on Chris Kreider's equalizer with less than 22 seconds left in regulation, the Devils rattled off three unanswered goals in the third and edged the Blueshirts 4-3 on Eric Gelinas' overtime game winner at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

After a week spent lamenting the Rangers' inability to gain traction in the standings, the team failed again to string together a pair of wins, falling instead to a mediocre 15-14-1 record.

Adding concern to the situation is the fact defenseman Marc Staal left the game during the third period and did not return. Staal, who missed half of last season with a frightening eye injury, appeared to get hit in the face by New Jersey's Reid Boucher on a play that went unpenalized. An MSG replay showed Staal slamming his helmet down on the ground in anger/frustration as he walked down the tunnel toward the trainer’s room.

All tied up: 41 years young, folks. Veteran Devils forward and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr was masterful in setting up the Devils' game-tying goal in the third period. Jagr controlled the puck down low and dragged a few Rangers defenders with him behind the net, before whipping it toward Henrik Lundqvist. Travis Zajac was there all alone at the right post to bury the rebound and knot the game 2-2.

Controversial call: With the Rangers up 2-0 in the second period on goals from Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello, the Devils cut that led in half with a goal from tough guy Cam Janssen. Janssen barreled into the net but not before the puck glanced off his skate. After a video review, the on-ice referee indicated that the replay did not find evidence of a "distinct kicking motion." The decision was not a popular one with the MSG crowd; Blueshirts fans were livid after the announcement. In related news, Janssen now has three goals, which is more than about half of the Rangers' roster can claim.

Prime opportunities: A couple of youngsters earned themselves promotions Saturday night. Rangers prospect JT Miller, summoned from the AHL on Wednesday, debuted on a line with Derick Brassard and Carl Hagelin. In previous stints up with the big club, Miller had been limited primarily to fourth-line duty. Boucher was paired with some top-tier talent in his second game in the NHL. The 2011 draft pick skated on a line with Jagr and first-line center Travis Zajac.

Missing in action: Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky missed Saturday’s match with an upper-body injury. Depth blueliner Peter Harrold, scratched for the previous five games, replaced him in the lineup and was on the ice for Richards' first-period marker. Harrold's ill-advised pinch led to an odd-man rush, allowing Richards to bury his team-leading ninth goal of the season and extend his point streak to six games.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Jets

December, 2, 2013
At a glance: An otherwise underwhelming match-up between the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets got a little bit spicier Monday morning after Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault announced that backup goaltender Cam Talbot would get the start over Henrik Lundqvist. Not quite a full-blown goalie controversy quite yet, but the decision certainly adds some intrigue to the game. Meanwhile, the Jets try to continue forward on what has been a pretty successful East Coast road trip thus far. Winners in two of their last three games, the Jets make a stop in New York before heading down south for a pair of games in Florda.

Riding the hot hand: Vigneault made sure to stress that Lundqvist remains the Rangers’ No. 1 goaltender, but Talbot’s strong play has certainly made an impression on the new coach. Vigneault deemed Talbot the best choice after the 26-year-old delivered a stellar 35-save effort in the team’s 5-2 win against the Canucks on Saturday. Talbot is 6-0-1 in his first seven starts and is the only goaltender in franchise history to hold opponents to two goals or fewer during that span.

On the mend: The Jets will be without forward Evander Kane Monday, as the team called up John Albert to play in his place. The 22-year-old Kane is battling a lower-body injury, suffered in the team’s 2-1 loss to Philadelphia Saturday.

Nice stretch for Nash: Rick Nash, who was sidelined for almost six weeks with a concussion earlier this season, is really coming on for the Rangers offense. He has three goals in as many games and finished with three points (one goals, two assists) in Saturday’s victory.

Breakout performance: Playing against his former coach John Tortorella, Chris Kreider recorded his first career hat trick on Saturday. It was a gratifying afternoon for the 22-year-old Boston College product. Though he insisted he had no hard feelings toward his old coach, Kreider struggled consistently under Tortorella’s tough-love and demanding style.

Kreider tricks, but doesn't trash, Torts

November, 30, 2013
Chris KreiderAl Bello/Getty ImagesIt was hats off to Chris Kreider at the Garden on Saturday afternoon.
NEW YORK -- It was an afternoon of redemption for the Rangers, and no one left Madison Square Garden happier than Chris Kreider.

The 22-year-old fumbled with the Broadway Hat after the game, feigning confusion over whether he should put it on or not when addressing the media following his team's 5-2 win against former coach John Tortorella and his visiting Vancouver Canucks. But it was a far cry from Kreider's decisive performance on the ice, where he recorded his first career hat trick against an ex-coach who never quite seemed to trust him or buy into his top-billed potential.

Gracious in victory, however, Kreider downplayed any strain between the coach and charge and said he didn't blame Tortorella for the numerous benchings and demotions to the AHL Kreider endured last season.

[+] EnlargeJohn Tortorella
AP Photo/Bill KostrounAre there any hard feelings between ex-coach John Tortorella and Kreider? Not as far as the young Ranger is concerned.
“I’d struggle trusting me, too. I was playing through [an ankle] injury. No hard feelings,” Kreider said.

So, what exactly was his relationship like with Tortorella?

“A pretty positive one,” Kreider said. “He communicated what he expected from me, worked closely with me to help me get better as a player.”

That work may not have paid off last season, when Kreider spent half the year in the minors and was limited to two goals and three points in 23 games with the big club after the lockout ended. But Kreider’s heralded speed and skill was on full display Saturday as he recorded three goals against the Canucks as the Rangers improved to 14-13-0 and recovered from a pitiful loss to the Bruins one day prior.

Streaking to the net in open ice, Kreider tallied his first of the game at 12:37 of the first period, celebrating with what appeared to be a bit of extra exuberance after beating Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo stick-side. Kreider scored once more in the first period to give the Rangers a 2-0 cushion headed into the first intermission, and nabbed the third with a wicked tip in front midway through final frame.

“This was not the same player we saw in the preseason,” coach Alain Vigneault said of Kreider’s dramatic improvement.

After all, Tortorella wasn't the only one to send Kreider to the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford, Conn., for more seasoning. Vigneault did the same back in September.

“There wasn't much going on there,” Vigneault admitted of the former Boston College standout.

With his trio of goals Saturday, Kreider is now just one shy of the team lead. The outburst was a critical one for a Rangers squad that has struggled for offense in recent weeks.

With Kreider’s hat trick and dynamic winger Rick Nash now rounding into form, the Rangers have scored 12 goals in the past three games.

Nash finished the night with two assists and a goal of his own -- his third in as many games and one that prompted Tortorella to yank Luongo from the net. The 29-year-old forward, who returned earlier this month after missing almost six weeks with a concussion, was both physically engaged and involved.

He took a big hit to connect with Kreider for the 22-year-old’s first goal of the game, and Nash was diligent in finding a way to set Kreider up for his third.

The Rangers' power-play unit, a glaring deficiency during Tortorella’s tenure in New York, was 2-for-3, and defenseman Michael Del Zotto responded to a two-game benching with one of those man-up markers.

His teammates were elated for him, surrounding him in celebration after he scored.

“I think that was the best feeling, seeing how excited they got that I scored, too,” Del Zotto said.

The 23-year-old, whose time in Vigneault’s doghouse this season has only heightened trade speculation, gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead in the second period.

All this was a boon for Vigneault, who was seething after his team’s sub-par effort in Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Bruins.

Vigneault blasted his club after the game, indicting several players for bringing a “B” performance against a league heavyweight such as the Bruins.

That message resonated within the Rangers' room, and served as motivation.

Not like the team needed any more.

“We see that passion and that’s the kind of passion that they need to bring to the rink every day,” Kreider said. “A lot of guys felt like that after the game and that’s a good thing because you want that hurt and fire after a loss like that.”

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Canucks 2

November, 30, 2013

NEW YORK -- John Tortorella’s return to Madison Square Garden was not a pleasant one as his former club whipped his Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Saturday.

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.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Stars 2

November, 21, 2013
The Rangers scored twice within a span of 37 seconds on goals from Chris Kreider and defenseman John Moore to snap a 1-1 draw in the third period and knock off the Stars in Dallas 3-2 Thursday, the first of a five-game road trip for the Blueshirts. Thursday's match was a terrific goaltending duel between Henrik Lundqvist and Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen, but the Rangers halted a two-game skid to get back to .500 with an 11-11-0 record. Lundqvist, who was pristine particularly in the first period, finished the game with 41 saves.

Held in by Hank: The Rangers were lucky to escape a lopsided first with a 1-0 lead as Lundqvist was pelted with the puck repeatedly throughout the period. A porous Rangers defense forced Lundqvist to make 23 saves in the first 20 minutes of play; according to Elias Sports Bureau that is the career high for the former Vezina Trophy winner for number of saves during a single period.

Big game for Nash: In his second game back from a concussion that sidelined him for almost six weeks, winger Rick Nash didn't seem like someone returning from a lengthy absence as he notched his first goal of the season to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first period. Nash made a slick move to notch one on the power play -- a critical man-up marker as the Rangers were under siege for much of the opening frame. Nash also played well in his first game back, registering five shots on goal in the team's 2-1 loss to the Bruins Tuesday night, though he was held off the score sheet. The Rangers hope Nash's size and skill will pay dividends for them as they struggle to execute on offense. Heading into Thursday's game, the Rangers had managed only four goals in their past four games.

Shortly after Alex Chiasson pulled the Stars within a goal, Nash had a prime opportunity to notch his second of the night when he was awarded a penalty shot midway through the third period, but he was denied by Lehtonen, who kept the Stars within striking distance at 3-2.

Opportunitists on offense: After Tuesday's loss to the Bruins, one in which the Rangers had only one goal to show after lobbing 40 shots on goal against Tuukka Rask, coach Alain Vigneault talked about the need to play a more opportunistic brand of hockey. Thursday, the Rangers made the Stars pay for mistakes as both Kreider's and Moore's third-period goals came after a Dallas turnover.