Chris Kreider’s hat trick leads Rangers to blowout win

At any given moment, the Rangers can explode for multiple goals no matter the situation or circumstance.

That was the case at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, when they erased another two-goal deficit and charged back with a whopping six unanswered tallies for a 7-3 victory over the Coyotes to kick off the second half of the season.

Chris Kreider, continuing his career year, recorded a hat trick as part of his four-point night. Kreider now has a career-best 29 goals on the season. It was the fifth three-goal performance of Kreider’s 10-year NHL tenure.

The Rangers resembled more of a fizzled-out firework through the first period, and they trailed 2-1 after getting outshot by an egregious 16-4 in the opening 20 minutes. After Clayton Keller pulled the Coyotes ahead by two with a goal just over seven minutes into the second period, the Rangers looked to be dead in the water against the second-to-worst team in the NHL.

Playing without winger Kaapo Kakko, who was a last-minute scratch following warmups with what the team said was an upper-body injury, the Rangers were suddenly even more shorthanded when Filip Chytil didn’t come back to the bench for the second period.

Chris Kreider (20), who scored a hat trick, celebrates with teammates after one of his goals in the Rangers’ 7-3 win over the Coyotes.
USA TODAY Sports

Chytil, who the Rangers said suffered a lower-body injury, missed the remainder of the game.

While the Rangers were killing off Ryan Strome’s slashing penalty at 10:20 of the second, defenseman Jacob Trouba’s second pass to Chris Kreider got through for a shorthanded goal that cut the deficit to 3-2. Julien Gauthier evened the score shortly after, finishing a play around the Coyotes net.

One could argue that Arizona’s top-line center Johan Larson then made the biggest mistake of the game: going after Adam Fox. Larson cross-checked Fox while he was down, before delivering a cheap shot to the back of his head, drawing the ire of every Ranger on the ice and every fan in blue in the building.

Chris Kreider pressures Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka during the Rangers' victory.
Chris Kreider pressures Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka during the Rangers’ victory.
Corey Sipkin

With Larson in the box, Artemi Panarin sniped a power-play goal to give the Rangers their first lead of the night at 16:33 of the second. Kreider then buried a rebound after an odd-man rush to give the Rangers four goals in span of 7:12 in the second period.

Trouba scored just 1:33 into the third and Kreider closed out the scoring with a power-play goal for the hat trick.

Though it was their second time facing the Coyotes on the back end of a back-to-back, the Rangers, once again, came out alarmingly flat. They had zero scoring chances compared to the Coyotes’ 10 in the first period, per Natural Stat Trick.

Coyotes winger Liam O’Brien opened up the scoring just 2 ½ minutes into the game, putting home a loose rebound for the 1-0 lead. Trouba, however, responded 46 seconds later for the Rangers. After a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Trouba flung the puck through traffic to tie the game at one.

Arizona hustled for its time in the Rangers’ zone. Working the puck behind the net, with the Rangers’ third defensive pairing Patrik Nemeth and Braden Schneider chasing the play, former Islander Andrew Ladd was left all alone on the doorstep for the 2-1 score at 6:56.

Nemeth and Schneider were on the ice for the O’Brien goal as well. While the Rangers’ third pair may have gotten exposed in the first, the Rangers weren’t helping much on the offensive end — until the second period detonation.