Kreider’s hat trick in 3rd lifts Rangers to East final

Kreider's hat trick in 3rd lifts Rangers to East final

RALEIGH, N.C. — Chris Kreider had a third-period hat trick to help the New York Rangers erase a two-goal deficit and beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 in Game 6 on Thursday night to advance to the Eastern Conference final.

Kreider single-handedly erased the Hurricanes’ 3-1 lead entering the final period. The go-ahead score came when he got position on Jalen Chatfield at the top of the crease and tipped in Ryan Lindgren‘s pass to make it 4-3 at the 15:41 mark.

That finally allowed the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers to put away the Hurricanes, who had won two straight after falling into a 3-0 hole in the best-of-seven series. The Hurricanes appeared on the verge of forcing a Game 7 for a pressure-packed finale, but couldn’t contain Kreider and the Rangers’ surge in the final 14 minutes.

Barclay Goodrow finished this one off by getting to a loose puck near the boards and scoring a long empty-net goal in the final minute, sending Goodrow to the nearby Rangers bench to be mobbed by teammates.

That sent the Rangers on to the Eastern Conference final to face the Boston-Florida winner, with the Panthers leading that series 3-2.

Kreider’s first goal came when he cleaned up a stop by Frederik Andersen on Mika Zibanejad at the 6:43 mark to make it 3-2. He followed by tipping in a shot by Artemi Panarin to tie it at the 11:54 mark.

Igor Shesterkin hung in after a pressured first two periods, finishing with 33 saves and coming up with a big stop on Jordan Staal near the crease and another tying chance from Andrei Svechnikov off a faceoff win in the third period.

Vincent Trocheck also scored off a deflection in the second period for New York.

Martin Necas, Seth Jarvis and Sebastian Aho scored for Carolina, while Andersen finished with 19 saves.

The Hurricanes also missed on multiple late chances to increase their lead, with Jordan Martinook — who had a highlight-reel sliding effort to knock away a loose puck from the goal line midway through the second period — and Jake Guentzel each pinging the metal past Shesterkin to come up empty.

There was also a big opportunity in the third when two Rangers collided and fell to the ice in their own end, leaving top Carolina center Aho with a 1-on-1 chance on Shesterkin. But as Aho skated in from the left circle, he went wide right of the net as he tried to move to his backhand.

Those missed chances added up to a brutal exit for the Hurricanes, a team that was in the playoffs for the sixth time in as many seasons under Rod Brind’Amour and has been open about the goal of breaking through to win the Stanley Cup.

Carolina finished three points behind the Rangers for the Presidents’ Trophy awarded to the top team in the regular-season standings, and entered the NHL playoffs as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. But the Rangers won the first three games by one-goal margins — two coming in overtime — to threaten an unexpectedly quick resolution.

Carolina successfully beat back its power-play struggles for the Game 4 winner to stay alive, then rallied from a 1-0 deficit with four straight third-period goals to win Game 5 in Madison Square Garden and bring the series back to Raleigh.

But days later, the Rangers returned the favor with four straight of their own in the third, leaving a boisterous Hurricanes crowd in stunned disbelief.