Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kreider on Fire!

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kreider on Fire!

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - The snug Broadway Hat, the Rangers' so-ugly-it's beautiful way of signifying their best player, hugged Chris Kreider's head as he sat at his locker, facing a crush of media wanting to know what it was like to hear his name chanted at Madison Square Garden.

"I think my favorite word is 'surreal,' " said the Rangers rookie, who'll celebrate his 21st birthday on Monday. "That's a good way to sum it up. I'm surprised. I didn't expect this. I guess I didn't have expectations."

Kreider's second goal in six NHL games was again a winner and he added an assist as the top-seeded Rangers broke open a defensive battle with two third-period goals to defeat the seventh-seeded Capitals, 3-1, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal Saturday afternoon.

The teams combined for just 32 shots, but the Rangers scored twice in a span of 1 minute, 30 seconds to earn their third straight playoff win after rallying from a 3-2 series deficit against No. 8 Ottawa in the first round. Game 2 against the Capitals is Monday at the Garden.

"We talked about how they've changed their style; they're not run- and-gun anymore, we know they're going to play a tight, checking game," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "That's playing right into our style."

The Rangers were without both center Brian Boyle (concussion), who resumed skating Friday but missed his third straight game after a hard hit from the Senators' Chris Neil in Game 5 of the first round, and left wing Brandon Dubinsky (lower body), injured on a third-period check from the Senators' Zack Smith in Thursday's Game 7.

But the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Kreider's addition -- he was signed just prior to the start of the first round after leading Boston College to its second NCAA title in three seasons -- has brought speed and scoring to the Rangers' lineup.

"It's a great performance," said Brad Richards, who took Kreider's feed and beat Braden Holtby (11 saves) to the short side from the post to make it 3-1 at 8:30 of the third period.

"Poise is obviously a big part of it," Richards added. "He's not overwhelmed by anything."

Kreider scored the winner at 7:00 of the third period, taking Derek Stepan's feed and beating Holtby with a slap shot. …

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