Chris Kreider made New York Rangers history on Tuesday night, but it was quickly buried by the reality of a costly loss.
No one could ever deny that Chris Kreider has a flair for the dramatics.
Kreider, after all, made his NHL debut during the theatrics of the 2012 postseason and serves as the sole remnant of the New York Rangers’ prosperous playoff runs of the 2010s. When it came to reaching the historic 50-goal plateau, Kreider was no different, as his monumental tally came in the penultimate minute of the third period of a crucial Metropolitan Division showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, his 50th of the campaign.
With that goal, Kreider, 30, became the fourth Blueshirt to score 50 goals in a single season. Such a score also unites him with Vic Hadfield (1971-72) for the third-best output in team history, with only Adam Graves (52, 1993-94) and Jaromir Jagr (54, 2005-06) standing above them. He’s also the first Ranger to earn his 50th at MSG since Hadfield and the 50th puck entered the net on the night of Graves’ 54th birthday.
His 50th goal of the season.
No. 20, Chris. Kreider. pic.twitter.com/suq52G3XeM
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 13, 2022
Alas for Kreider and the Rangers, history was a mere footnote, as the Blueshirts (47-21-6) dropped a 4-2 decision to the Hurricanes. Kreider’s goal gave the Rangers hope after they fell behind 3-1 in the final frame, but Sebastian Aho put the game away through an empty-net score with six seconds remaining. The loss put a dent in the Rangers’ late push for a division title, which Carolina (48-18-8) currently owns with a four-point advantage with eight games remaining on each side.
Kreider never hid his disappointment with the fact that his memory-making goal came in a losing effort. When asked if he ever dreamed of reaching 50 goals, especially after never getting past 28 over his first nine full NHL seasons, the first-round pick from the 2009 draft merely replied that he “dreamed of raising the Stanley Cup”.
“It’s something that we can talk about probably on another day,” Kreider said, per ESPN. “It’s hard after a game like that. We were in it, we were doing a lot of good things. I think this would have meant a lot more if we found a way to win the game.”
To Kreider’s point, the Rangers came out hot against the long-tenured division leaders, outshooting the Hurricanes 14-8 in the first period before taking a 1-0 lead on K’Andre Miller’s seventh goal of the season. Carolina took over the latter portions of the game through consecutive tallies from Andrei Svechnikov, Seth Jarvis, and Jordan Staal. Their league-best penalty kill group also erased four Ranger power plays without incident. The teams will meet one more time at MSG on April 26, having split the pair held at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
Despite the loss, head coach Gerard Gallant was sure to give Kreider his well-earned due in the aftermath.
“I think it is awesome that he’s scored 50 goals…It’s a great feat, and he’s had a great season for us, and it’s too bad we had to lose when a guy scores his 50th. But hats off to him,” Gallant said in a video from SNY. “We all dream about the Stanley Cup, but he’s lying. He’s trying to go out and score 50 goals…it’s an unbelievable season and he’s still got six or seven games, I think.”
The Rangers won’t have much time to dwell on the loss to the Hurricanes, as they’ll face another Metropolitan opponent on Wednesday night when they battle the Philadelphia Flyers on the road (7 p.m. ET, TNT).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags