NEW YORK — Rangers rookie Chris Kreider scored the go-ahead goal and then set up Brad Richards’ insurance tally 90 seconds later in the third period to lift New York to a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in the opening game of the Eastern Conference semifinal series on Saturday.
Kreider, who earlier this month helped Boston College win the NCAA championship, scored his second goal of his NHL career – and these playoffs – and he did it at the perfect time to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead 7:00 into the third.
Richards made it a two-goal lead off a feed from Kreider, and gave a two-fisted punch into the glass behind goalie Braden Holtby to celebrate his third goal of the playoffs.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Kreider said. “I’m just trying to keep my head down and work hard. Whether or not the puck goes in, I’m just trying to play the same role I play every night and be consistent and be defensively reliable.”
Henrik Lundqvist earned the win, and needed to make only 17 saves to do it. The Rangers mustered just 14 shots on Holtby, but scored on two in a row to put the game away.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday in New York.
Artem Anisimov scored in the first period for the Rangers, who played without injured forwards Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky. Boyle missed his third consecutive game because of a concussion sustained in Game 5 of the first-round series against Ottawa.
Dubinsky was hurt in the third period Thursday night when New York edged the Senators 2-1 to win Game 7.
KINGS 3, BLUES 1
In St. Louis, Matt Greene scored shorthanded late in the second period for the lead and Jonathan Quick was strong in net throughout as Los Angeles beat the Blues in the opener of a Western Conference semifinal series.
Slava Voynov scored for his first point of the postseason and Dustin Penner added an empty-netter for the Kings, who were 3-0 on the road while taking down the President’s Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games in the first round. Los Angeles is the eighth seed in the conference but won the season series 3-1.
David Perron opened the scoring on a deflection in the first period for the Blues, the No. 2 seed in the West and the top remaining seed in the conference.