Dramatic Comeback: New York Rangers Secure Series Win with Chris Kreider’s Hat Trick

The New York Rangers, once cruising through the NHL playoffs with an unbeaten record, found themselves struggling to close out their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes despite having a significant lead.

Entering the third period of Game 6, the Rangers faced a daunting prospect: a potential Game 7. However, Chris Kreider stepped up to secure the Presidents’ Trophy winners’ spot in the Eastern Conference Final.

Kreider delivered a third-period hat trick, erasing a two-goal deficit and leading the Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes on Thursday night. This comeback marked a stunning reversal as their postseason momentum had stalled.

“We talk about being a resilient group and a competitive group,” Kreider said, “and I think we showed that tonight.”

Kreider single-handedly turned the game around, erasing Carolina’s 3-1 lead entering the final period. His go-ahead goal, completing the natural hat trick, came at 15:41 when he tipped in Ryan Lindgren’s pass to make it 4-3.

Kreider became the third Rangers player to score three goals in a series-clinching game, following Mike Gartner in 1990. His performance evoked memories of Mark Messier’s famous “guarantee” game in 1994, where Messier had a third-period hat trick in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against New Jersey, leading to the Rangers’ last Stanley Cup win.

Kreider’s heroics finally allowed the Rangers to dispatch the Hurricanes, who had won two straight games after trailing 3-0 in the best-of-7 series. The Hurricanes seemed poised to force a Game 7 but couldn’t withstand the Rangers’ surge in the final 14 minutes.

“We just had to go out there and make a decision in the third period,” said Vincent Trocheck, a former Hurricane who scored the Rangers’ first goal on a second-period deflection. “Either show up and play and be a part of the series, or don’t. I think we had 20 guys show up in the third.”

Barclay Goodrow sealed the victory with a long empty-net goal in the final minute, celebrating with his teammates as the Rangers advanced to face the winner of the Boston-Florida series, with the Panthers leading 3-2.

Kreider’s first goal came at 6:43, jamming the puck through against Frederik Andersen’s left skate after a Mika Zibanejad attempt. He then tied the game at 3 by tipping in an Artemi Panarin shot on the power play at 11:54.

“Their top guys took over in the third there once they got that one,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

Igor Shesterkin, despite being under pressure in the first two periods, finished with 33 saves and made crucial stops on Jordan Staal and Andrei Svechnikov in the third period.

Martin Necas, Seth Jarvis, and Sebastian Aho scored for Carolina, while Andersen recorded 19 saves. The Hurricanes missed several late opportunities to extend their lead, including close calls from Jordan Martinook and Jake Guentzel hitting the post.

In the third period, Aho had a 1-on-1 chance against Shesterkin but missed wide right, adding to Carolina’s frustrations.

These missed chances led to a harsh exit for the Hurricanes, who were aiming for a Stanley Cup breakthrough in their sixth consecutive playoff appearance under Brind’Amour. Carolina, finishing three points behind the Rangers for the Presidents’ Trophy, entered the playoffs as the Cup favorite according to Bet MGM Sportsbook.

The Rangers, who had swept Washington in the first round and won the first three games of this series by narrow margins, including two in overtime, initially looked set for an easy progression with a 7-0 postseason start. However, Carolina fought back, winning Game 4 and rallying from a 1-0 deficit in Game 5 to force Game 6 in Raleigh.

Just days later, the Rangers responded with four consecutive goals in the third period, leaving the boisterous Hurricanes crowd in stunned disbelief. This victory marked the second time in three seasons that the Rangers have eliminated the Hurricanes on their home ice in the second round, with their 2022 win coming in seven games.

“This is a tough way to end a really good year,” Brind’Amour said. “These guys played their hearts out all season. But this is what you’ll remember. And that’s the hard part.”

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