Chris Kreider scored twice Saturday for the host New York Rangers, who clinched a playoff berth and moved into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division by producing the final five goals in a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
The Rangers (47-20-6, 100 points) will be appearing in the main playoff bracket for the first time since the spring of 2017. New York fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in a qualifying round in the summer of 2020, when the playoffs were expanded to 24 teams after the COVID-19 pandemic ended the regular season in March.
Kreider scored the Rangers’ third and fifth goals to increase his season total to 49, which ties him the fourth-most in a single season in team history with Mike Gartner (1990-91). Jaromir Jagr set the record with 54 goals in 2005-06.
Artemi Panarin, Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome also scored for the Rangers, who tied the idle Hurricanes for first place while extending their lead to eight points over the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Penguins fell to the visiting Washington Capitals 6-3 earlier Saturday
New York goalie Igor Shesterkin made 21 saves.
Austin Watson scored in the first period for the Senators (26-39-6, 58 points). Anton Forsberg recorded 28 saves.
Watson scored 2:22 into the first before Panarin began the Rangers’ flurry with 7:28 left in the period, when he scored an unassisted goal off a Senators turnover following a faceoff win deep in the New York zone.
Panarin set up the go-ahead goal 6:56 into the second period with a nifty pass across the crease to Copp, who fired a shot over Forsberg’s glove.
Kreider capped an end-to-end rush 2:09 later when his shot from the left faceoff circle sailed into the upper right corner of the net.
Panarin added another impressive assist to cap another end-to-end rush with 2:33 remaining in the second. He skated through the neutral zone, dashed by two Senators and cruised to the goal line before passing backwards to Strome, who scored from point-blank range.
Kreider capped the scoring with 2:29 left in the third period.
–Field Level Media