NEWARK, N.J. -- It's reaching the point where Chris Kreider's ability to score goals despite his lack of NHL experience should stop surprising people.
Kreider, who joined the New York Rangers on the eve of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after leaving Boston College with one year of eligibility remaining, scored his fifth goal of the postseason in a 3-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Prudential Center on Saturday afternoon.
Only Brad Richards with six goals is outscoring Kreider among the Rangers, who now hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Kreider has literally grown up during the postseason -- he turned 21 years old April 30 -- and now holds the NHL record for most goals in the playoffs without ever having played in the regular season.
Kreider isn't a household name yet. Even his coach still isn't all that familiar with the 6-foot-3, 230-pound left wing.
"I don't know the kid at all. I've probably spoken to him probably three or four times since he's been here," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "But he has a knack. The puck follows him around. And he has a ways to go away from the puck, but he has a knack with that puck. And as we continue, especially when the season starts next year, I think that's when we'll certainly find more about him. But it's pretty exciting to see what he's doing as a kid coming right out of college."
Kreider put the Rangers ahead 2-0 early in the third period, less than two minutes after defenseman Dan Girardi broke a scoreless tie. Kreider started the game on the Rangers' second line, but Tortorella moved him to the team's top line in place of Carl Hagelin for a few shifts.
The Rangers burned the first year of Kreider's entry-level deal in order to make him eligible for the postseason. When rumors were swirling at the trade deadline that the Rangers were close to acquiring Rick Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets, it was Kreider's name that was at the heart of the speculation.
During the postseason, the future has become now for Kreider and the Rangers.
"Everybody's here for a reason," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 36 saves for his second shutout of the series. "They're not here because we think a guy's going to be good next year or two years. He's here and playing because he's good right now.
"He's done a great job, though. I'm really happy the way he came in and fit into the group and adjusted his game. So he should have a lot of credit. But, again, I'm not going to give him any slack because he's young and hasn't played that much. He's here because he can play here."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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