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Kreider Leads Rangers to Win Over Sharks

Winger's Goal, Assist Brings Point Total to Six

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

In what could only be described as a whirlwind of a third period, the Rangers walked away with a 7-4 win over the San Jose Sharks at Madison Square Garden to improve to 2-1 on the young season.

The Rangers and Sharks combined for seven goals in the third period, including two empty net markers. It marked the first time Rangers scored seven in a game since March 22, 2015 against Anaheim.

Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist, while Marc Staal, Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey - his first in the NHL - all found the back of the net for the first time this season. Captain Ryan McDonagh added two assists and Antti Raanta finished with 27 saves for his first win of the season.

"It's a big win for us. They're a very good team," said Kreider, who became the first Ranger since Brian Leetch since the 1992-93 season to open a regular season with six points in three games.

The Rangers opened the scoring midway through the opening period when Staal fired a one-timer from Zuccarello that beat Martin Jones to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

Video: SJS@NYR: Staal rips one-timer past Jones

After an odd-man, shorthanded rush by the Rangers was unsuccessful, San Jose quickly went the other way with Joe Thornton feeding Joe Pavelski at the bottom of the faceoff circle, who fired a cross-ice pass to Logan Couture just outside the crease for the tap in past Raanta to tie the game, 1-1, with 58 seconds left to play.

The Rangers broke the tie 4:15 into the second period on Nash's first of the season. McDonagh fired a shot pass off the end boards that bounced back in front. Nash was able to get enough stick on it to send it into the back of the cage to put the Rangers ahead 2-1.

Video: SJS@NYR: Kreider wrists in PPG from left circle

New York would extend its lead with the man advantage. Kreider broke down along the boards and into a pass that McDonagh banked off the wall. No. 20 fired a quick wrist shot from below the circle that found space just under the crossbar to put the Blueshirts up 3-1.

San Jose answered midway through the third period when McDonagh failed to clear the puck out oft he Rangers zone leading to Brent Burns scoring with 10:47 to play.

New York answered with two quick goals from Hayes and Vesey - which turned out to be the game-winner - to put New York ahead 5-2.

 Video: SJS@NYR: Vesey nets Stepan's feed for first NHL goal

"It was definitely just pure joy," said Vesey, sporting the Broadway Hat. "I think I expressed it a little bit on the ice. I think I gave two fist pumps and I just couldn't be happier to get that one out of the way. Especially to do it at home in front of our fans, the ovation after that was awesome and what I dreamed about as a kid. I'm really happy to get that one."

But things would get dicey again for the Rangers. Burns would score his second of the period to make it 5-3, and Joe Pavelski would get a piece of a Burns shot from the point that got the Sharks to within a goal with 4:29 to play to cut the lead to 5-4.

That was as close as things would get, as Zuccarello iced the game with and empty net goal with 1:36 left to play. Michael Grabner added a second empty netter with 10 seconds remaining.

"Probably, yeah," Raanta said when asked if it was one of the more memorable periods of hockey he's played. "Sometimes it just goes like that when you get a couple quick goals. It's like 5-2, you take your leg off the gas, give them little chances."

Head coach Alain Vigneault gave credit where credit was due for a San Jose team that entered the match with an unbeaten record.

"You have to give credit to the opposition, also. They're behind by two, you know they're going to open things up," Vigneault said. "They're the Stanley Cup finalist, and one of the best road teams last year. We knew they were going to have a push. It made it an exciting game

Both Dylan McIlrath and Josh Jooris made their season debuts for the Rangers, with McIlrath replacing Dan Girardi (strained groin) and Jooris filling in for Pavel Buchnevich (back spasms). 

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