Kreider, who burst onto the scene during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs straight out of Boston College, rediscovered a little of that postseason magic by converting a Rick Nash feed just over seven minutes into overtime to give the Rangers a 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
"I was lucky enough to play with Rick," the 22-year-old Kreider said in the New York Times. "I was just trying to go hard to the net. He's such a talented player. He was able to find my tape and I tried to put it on net."
On the goal, Nash came down the right side and found Kreider's stickblade with a hard pass toward the slot. Kreider had position on Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton and redirected the puck high to Tuukka Rask's blocker side to give the Rangers their first overtime win of the playoffs and hand Boston its first overtime loss in this postseason.
Instead of being swept, the Rangers forced Game 5 back at TD Garden on Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I just kind of buried my head and drove toward the net," Kreider said. "It is so surreal. It's not something that can really be explained. It's something that just has to be felt, but it was awesome and I'm just excited to give these guys an opportunity to play another game."
It was the third game-winning goal of Kreider's young playoff career. The first two came among the five goals he scored in 18 games during the Rangers' run to the Eastern Conference Finals last spring, not long after Kreider was part of an NCAA championship winner at BC.
Even though the Rangers' season ended two wins shy of the Stanley Cup Final last year, they appeared to have a shining star in Kreider who would provide a much-needed boost to the team's offense in 2012-13. Except Kreider never really got his game going in the American Hockey League during the lockout, and then spent several months after the NHL returned bouncing back and forth between the Rangers and the AHL Connecticut Whale.
Kreider totaled just two goals and one assist in 23 games for the Rangers this season and had one assist in six playoff games before coach John Tortorella elected to give him ice time with Nash during a lineup shakeup in Game 4 that saw veteran Brad Richards a healthy scratch.
Given the expanded role, Kreider came through and the Rangers have life.
"I couldn't be happier for him," Tortorella said of Kreider in the Times. "He made a big play for us, and we're breathing now. It gets us back to Boston, which was our only goal [Thursday]. We just need to go play."
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