NEW YORK -- Right wing Chris Kreider does everything fast.
The New York Rangers forward scored 38 seconds into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, sparking a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals that evened the best-of-7 series.
Kreider continued to have an impact for the final 59 minutes.
"He has a huge influence on the game for us, the way he can skate, the way he can hit and shoot, the physicality," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "When he's putting all three of those together, it's a tough combo to defend for anyone. So it's a good sign for him today that he was able to get going.
"He has to continue that for us if we want to be successful against this team."
Kreider created open space for himself throughout the game with his quickness. When the Rangers won the puck in their end, Kreider sped through the neutral zone creating a target for his linemates. On two plays, center Derek Stepan hit Kreider with a stretch pass in stride as he skated behind the Capitals defense.
"We've played together for a pretty long time," Kreider said of his chemistry with Stepan, "going back to World Juniors. That's definitely a play we've been able to take advantage of. It's something we don't want to rely on, but definitely want to use if it's there. He makes great reads there, and I just have to get my feet going."
Kreider and Stepan were teammates on the 2010 United States World Junior Championship team that won the gold medal. Stepan has watched Kreider mature since then and learn to use his physical tools to his advantage.
"He's been great for us. He has to continue to use his big body and his speed," Stepan said. "He's gotten better and better as the year has gone on, he's gotten better and better as the playoffs have gone.
"There's some chemistry there. We have to play the game too, and we have to be instinctive. Me and [Kreider] have been playing together for a long time, so we have good chemistry with that."
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 2
SOG: 17 | +/-: 0
Kreider's professional career was fast-tracked when he made his NHL debut in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Ottawa Senators
less than a week after signing out of Boston College. But like everything else, speed was never an issue for Kreider, who scored five goals in 18 games that postseason as a true rookie.
Kreider, 24, is figuring out ways to use his physical tools.
"He's done that throughout this year," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's still a very young player learning the game, and learning when to finish."
The key is for Kreider to figure out how fast is fast enough, with Game 3 approaching Monday in Washington (7:30 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN). On the stretch passes from Stepan, Kreider did not score. On the first, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby stretched out to make a pad save. On the second, Kreider got in too deep and missed the net.
"I was moving a little faster than I expected," Kreider said. "I ended up moving past the pipe."