June 23, 2024

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Chris Kreider’s hat-trick continues Rangers’ run to eliminate the Hurricanes

Chris Kreider’s hat-trick continues Rangers’ run to eliminate the Hurricanes

NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Rangers came into the final 20 minutes of Game 6 of their second-round series against the Hurricanes as if Game 7 wasn’t an option.

It took one of their signature comeback performances, but the Blueshirts – led by Chris Kreider’s natural hat-trick – flipped the script with four third-period goals on Thursday to seal a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes and advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in three years.

Kreider, who said during the second intermission that he would score before notching his first career playoff hat-trick, led the effort to stun a Hurricanes team that led for 51:54 of the 60-minute game.

The Rangers cruised to victory in Game 6 thanks to a crazy third period. Jason Szens for the New York Post

When asked what the win means to him as the Rangers’ longest-tenured player, Kreider stayed true to his level-headed nature.

“It means we get to play more hockey,” he joked.

There’s been a lot of talk about the franchise’s momentum coming into this season, after Carolina avoided elimination twice in the past five days.

Most downplay the fluctuations from game to game, but there’s no denying that the Canes were rejuvenated from the moment they scored their first power-play goal of the series — snapping an 0-for-16 skid — to salvage their season in Game 4.

From there, the Hurricanes got better and better — as if the Rangers’ discomfort was directly feeding into Carolina’s growing confidence.

The Canes made their adjustments and they were working, but the Rangers had come too far to get a whiff a third time.

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Chris Kreider received congratulations from his teammates after scoring one of his three goals in the third period in the Rangers’ series comeback win. Getty Images

“There wasn’t a lot said after the second,” said Vincent Trocheck, who scored at the 5:29 mark of the second period to make it 2-1 before the Hurricanes responded with another to make it two goals. The goal leads to the final frame.

“We knew that wasn’t the way we needed to play in order to win hockey games in the playoffs against teams like this. We just had to go out there and make a decision in the third period and either show up and play and be part of the series or we didn’t. I think we had 20 men appeared in the third round.

A Martin Necas goal late in the first period put pressure on the Rangers, who gave up another goal to Seth Jarvis during Kane’s power play less than five minutes into the middle frame.

Chris Kreider’s reaction after scoring the game-winning goal in the third period. Jason Szens for the New York Post

The Rangers’ second line of Trocheck, Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere had a stronger start than in the previous two contests, allowing the trio to put their team on the board just under a minute later with a goal from Trocheck.

Kreider later made it a one-goal game at the 6:43 mark of the third period, when he jammed a home run to keep his team competitive.

Igor Shesterkin reacts after Sebastian Aho scores a second-period goal in the Rangers’ comeback series win. Jason Szens for the New York Post

The tough Rangers, playing on an 0-for-12 slide dating back to Game 2, then came alive to tie it at three. Kreider got the stick on Panarin’s shot before the 33-year-old scored the game-winner with 4:19 left, slotting in a wraparound pass from Ryan Lindgren.

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A long-range goal into an empty net from Barclay Goodrow sent the mostly red-clad crowd storming out.

“This is special,” Mika Zibanejad said. “Especially being up 3-0, and we had a chance to close it out here in Game 4 and we didn’t do that, and then come home and try to do that in Game 5. We weren’t happy with our performance in Game 5 and just coming to Carolina and responding the way we did — on Even though we’re coming down and trying to fight back – that’s definitely up there.”

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