Chris Kreider had a hat trick to define his career–high with 29 goals, tied for the NHL lead, and the New York Rangers scored six unanswered to beat the Arizona Coyotes 7-3 on Saturday night for their eighth victory in 11 games.
Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba scored twice as New York improved to 12-3-2 at home and recovered from an early 3-1 deficit after being trailed 16-4 in the first period by the Coyotes, last. On Friday night, the first-place Rangers lost 6-3 to division rival Carolina and returned to New York in the wee hours of the morning.g.
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“48 crazy hours for us. It took a little while for our legs and momentum to kick in,” Trouba said. “Good composure between periods. We hung on. It’s good to be able to do that.”
Igor Shesterkin made 25 saves for his sixth straight win and 10th victory in 11 games, improving his record to 19-4-2 this season.
Kreider scored shorthanded at 11:30 of the second period to cut the deficit to 3-2 before Julien Gauthier equalized at 15:22 with his third goal of the season and first since Dec. 14.
“The shorthanded goal was huge for us,” said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “It was definitely a change of momentum, that’s for sure.”
Artemi Panarin put Rangers ahead on the power play with his 11th goal at 16:33 of the second before Kreider scored again at 18:42 of the half to match his previous career high of 28 goals, which he had accomplished twice.
The 30-year-old forward completed his fifth career hat trick on the power play at 10:06 of the third period. Kreider has 14 power-play goals and warmly thanked his teammates for his scoring prowess, putting him on pace for a 57-goal season. He has scored eight times in the last five games.
“Guys send the puck to the net when I’m there,” Kreider said. “There are so many good guys in the lineup who can create and manipulate passing lanes…some of the best players in the world.”
Kreider has scored 10 goals in his last nine games and even had the NHL in the lead for a little while – until Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period for Washington against Ottawa to also give him 29 goals.
“We feel good as a group,” Kreider said.
Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien opened the scoring at 2:29 from the first beating Shesterkin for his second goal of the season.
Trouba tied the game less than a minute later at 3:15 with assists from Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.
Andrew Ladd gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead at 6:56 with his sixth goal. Clayton Keller made it 3-1 at 7:03 of the second when his shot passed Shesterkin for his team-best 15th goal.
Next, the Rangers went to work against Coyotes rookie goaltender Karel Vejmelka, who had won his last three games on the road before meeting the top-flight Rangers.
Czech-born Vejmelka made 14 saves on 20 shots before being replaced by Scott Wedgewood at 1:33 of the third after Trouba scored his second of the game and eighth goal of the season.
“He’s been a superstar for us,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said of Vejmelka, who has won six of Arizona’s 10 wins. “We would have liked to have helped him better tonight and bailed him out. This does not happen.”
Zibanejad, who also assisted on Panarin’s goal with Adam Fox, has an eight-game point streak with four goals and six assists in that span.
Fox, who leads the Rangers with 45 points including seven goals, has 12 assists in his last 10 games.
Both teams played the previous night on the road, with the Coyotes suffering a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders.
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REMEMBERING THE GILLIES
Gallant, 58, said before the game that as a young player growing up in Canada, he idolized Islanders Hall of Fame left-winger Clark Gillies, who died Friday at age 67.
“He was my favorite player and it was my favorite team when I was a kid,” Gallant said. “When I was playing bantam hockey, I wanted to be Clark Gillies – to score and fight.”
IRON MAN 2
Coyotes forward Phil Kessel played his 940th consecutive game, the second-longest active streak in the league. Philadelphia defenseman Keith Yandle has played 963 consecutive games, one shy of the NHL record held by Doug Jarvis.
NOTES: This was the Coyotes’ first game at Madison Square Garden since Oct. 22, 2019, a 3-2 overtime win. … The Rangers won the previous meeting this season, 3-2 on Dec. 15 in Arizona. … Rangers striker Kaapo Kakko was a late scratch with an upper body injury. … New York also ruled out defenders Jarred Tinordi and Libor Hajek. … The Rangers will play four of their next five home games before the All-Star break. … The Coyotes ruled out Ryan Dzingel, Antoine Roussel and Dysin Mayo.
Rangers: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
Coyotes: Complete a four-game road trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.