Washington's Karl Alzner and Rangers winger Chris Kreider battle for the puck. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers were facing elimination Sunday in part because of their problems scoring on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, but Blueshirts winger Chris Kreider breathed confidence into his team early in Game 6 with an incredible goal just 40 seconds into the opening period.
Facing elimination for the second straight game – in large part because they scored just seven goals in their first five games against the Washington Capitals and star goalie Braden Holtby – the New York Rangers needed to come out with a strong start Sunday in Game 6 of their second-round series. And that's just what they did, courtesy of left winger Chris Kreider, who used his speed and strength to score an incredible goal just 40 seconds into the first period.
The 24-year-old Kreider picked up a loose puck at center ice and took off like a rocket, with only Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen near the vicinity of himself and Washington's net. Kreider used his 6-foot-3 frame to get inside position, then went to his backhand and flipped it up and past Holtby to make it 1-0 for the visiting team:
The goal was Kreider's fourth in 11 playoff games this season and gives him a two-game scoring streak. It also gave goaltender Henrik Lundqvist a lead to work with, and with no more room for error for the Blueshirts, it was crucial to them staying alive in the post-season.
UPDATE: Kreider stuck it to the Capitals for the second time in the first period – and just barely – when he scored with 0.3 seconds left on the clock to extend the Rangers' lead to two goals:
The Capitals have shown the ability to rebound before, but if they can't contain Kreider in the very near future, Game 7 back at Madison Square Garden Wednesday is looking like it's going to happen.