Chris Kreider made history when he became the first player to record two game-winning goals in the same playoffs in which he made his NHL debut. A 20-year-old Kreider scored the game-winning goal as the Rangers topped the Washington Capitals, 3-1 in Game 1 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Rangers caught the Capitals on a line change and Kreider found separation with his all-world acceleration, getting on the end of a Derek Stepan lead pass. Kreider then ripped a slap shot past Braden Holtby and became an instant favorite at Madison Square Garden.
“I'm kind of at a loss for words,” Kreider said. “I'm just trying to keep my head down and work hard. Whether or not the puck goes in, I'm just trying to play the same role I play every night and be consistent and be defensively reliable.”
Brad Richards’ goal at 8:30 of the third period sealed the win for the Blueshirts. As a veteran numerous playoff runs, Richards was impressed with Kreider’s quick adaptation.
“To be honest, it’s surprising because this is a pretty high level he jumps into,” Richards said. “It shows his learning curve and his hockey IQ. He shows something every night. Let him keep doing that every night, making big plays and doing what he’s doing.”
Artem Anisimov scored the game’s opening goal at 12:38 of the second period. Jason Chimera evened the contest with four seconds left in the middle frame. Kreider’s goal at seven minutes into the third period brought the crowd at MSG out of their seats and excited NBC analyst Pierre McGuire.
“We’re seeing a star be born in front of our eyes,” McGuire exclaimed. “Right now, he’s the fastest player in the league. This kid’s all-world.”
Fresh from Boston College and days shy of his 21st birthday, Kreider had made an immediate impact through the first six games of his career. The 6-foot-3 wing previously notched the game-winner in Game 6 of the opening round against the Ottawa Senators.
Kreider was thrust onto the Rangers’ 2012 playoff roster without playing in a single regular season game following a dominant junior season for the Eagles. His 45 points in 44 games helped Boston College to a second NCAA Tournament championship in three years.
He would finish his first NHL playoffs with five goals and two assists in 18 games. The Rangers were eliminated in Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final on an Adam Henrique overtime winner.
Through 77 career playoff games, Kreider’s 23 postseason goals ranks him seventh all-time in team history. His six playoff game-winning goals are tied for second in franchise history, only trailing Mark Messier’s seven.
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