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PREVIEW: Chris Kreider, New York Rangers look to keep rolling vs. Devils

Mar 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal during the second period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal during the second period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers appear to be on an upswing, and a majority of their recent success can be attributed to Chris Kreider’s ability to score goals.

Kreider will attempt to continue his good fortune on Saturday afternoon when the Rangers visit the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J.

The Rangers are 5-2-0 in their past seven games since a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) from Feb. 8-16. During those seven games, New York has scored 25 non-shootout goals and Kreider recorded nine of his team-leading 13 tallies.

Kreider has two hat tricks in New York’s past five games, with both coming on the road. He scored three goals in a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia on Feb. 24 and then recorded his fourth career hat trick in Thursday’s 6-1 victory at New Jersey.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “So, you know, he’s a vocal leader. He’s playing physical. He’s playing hard at both ends and getting rewarded with some timely goals. It could not come at a better time for our team.”

Read More: RECAP: Chris Kreider notches hat trick as New York Rangers beat New Jersey Devils

On Thursday, Kreider scored the first three goals for the Rangers, who tied a season high with six goals and beat the Devils for the first time in three meetings this season.

“Listen, the guy is hot, you get them the puck, and he’s obviously feeling it,” New York’s Ryan Strome said. “He’s got timely goals, big goals. And, you know, there’s such a short season that these games are so important and moments like that and plays like that from a veteran player lift everyone up. He was great tonight.”

Kreider’s production comes at a time when Artemi Panarin has been out for five games due to personal reasons.

Strome collected two assists Thursday, giving him nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past seven games. And Pavel Buchnevich collected a goal and an assist on Thursday, giving him nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past eight games.

Despite Kreider’s big game and New York’s lopsided victory, the Rangers lost goaltender Igor Shesterkin to a lower-body injury with 5:52 remaining in the third period. Shesterkin made 32 saves before getting injured in a collision with New Jersey defenseman Damon Severson.

The Devils scored nine goals in the first two meetings with the Rangers before enduring their most lopsided loss of the season on Thursday.

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Jack Hughes scored the lone goal for New Jersey, which is mired in an eight-game home losing skid. It is the Devils’ longest home losing streak since a franchise-record nine-game skid from Dec. 22, 1985-Feb. 6, 1986.

New Jersey’s last home win was a 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Jan. 24. Since then, the Devils have been outscored 31-13 at home.

The home skid also is part of New Jersey’s overall skid. The Devils are on a season-high four-game losing streak and 1-7-0 in their past eight games since winning three straight from Jan. 31-Feb. 18.

“Right now, we just have to find a way to get a win and we have to really bear down. We have to pay a price. We’re not going to get an easy goal or hope for bounces, we can’t hope for a play,” New Jersey’s Travis Zajac said. “We just have to go in and really earn it for 60 minutes.”

–Field Level Media