Kreider gets hat trick, Rangers spoil Tortorella’s return
NEW YORK — Left winger Chris Kreider and goaltender Cam Talbot were not skating with the New York Rangers when the season began, but since their promotion from the minors they have been a key part of the team’s resurgence.
Kreider scored three goals for the first hat trick of his career and Talbot stopped a career-high 35 shots to help the Rangers to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks in a Saturday matinee at Madison Square Garden.
The 22-year-old Kreider is the first Rangers rookie to record a hat trick since Derek Stepan notched one on Oct. 9, 2010 against Buffalo.
Talbot, 26, has yet to allow more than two goals in each of his seven NHL starts.
The Rangers (14-13-0) are 12-8 since the duo was called up on the same day from Hartford of the AHL on Oct. 20.
Vancouver (13-10-5) is 2-6-2 in its last 10 games.
Talbot is 6-1 as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup and Kreider has registered 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in the 20 games following his call-up.
The Rangers’ victory spoiled the return of Canucks coach John Tortorella since getting fired by New York on May 29. He was replaced by Alain Vigneault, who Vancouver let go earlier in May.
New York was 2-for-2 on the power play against the league’s top penalty-killing unit. Vancouver had allowed just nine power-play goals in 27 games before Saturday.
Kreider, powerfully built at 6-foot-3, 226 pounds, planted himself in front of the Canucks’ net to score his third goal of the game. He tipped in a shot from defenseman Anton Stralman at 9:38 of the third period.
“He’s using his strength and size and tonight was an indication of that,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of Kreider.” He’s not the same player we saw in the preseason. We sent him to the minors because there really wasn’t much going on.
“Since he’s been back he’s been one of our better forwards.”
Tortorella removed Roberto Luongo from the nets after left winger Rick Nash deflected Derek Stepan’s shot just 17 seconds into the second period to give New York a 3-0 edge.
Luongo was replaced by Eddie Lack.
“I’m not certainly putting it on Louie (Luongo), but the onus is on all of us here to gain some traction,” Tortorella said. “So everyone has to give some skin.”
Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto returned to the ice after not dressing in five of the last eight games and promptly blasted a power-play goal off a crisp pass from right winger Mats Zuccarello at 11:04 of the second. Del Zotto’s second strike of the season put the Rangers ahead 4-0.
Left winger David Booth’s third goal of the season, a backhander at 15:50, got Vancouver on the board in the second period and left winger Daniel Sedin scored a third-period goal.
Kreider accounted for the Rangers’ 2-0 lead in the first period. He deflected a shot in the crease from defenseman Ryan McDonough on the power play at 16:54 and sent a wrist shot over Luongo’s right shoulder at 12:37.
“To get out in front by two goals there right away was pretty important for us,” Talbot said. “It also helped me settle into the game a little here.
“We kind of climbed on Kreider’s back and kept going.”
The Canucks have scored only 20 times in the first period in 28 games.
“It’s been a battle to score that first goal,” Tortorella said. “We’re just climbing that hill. I think we generate early in the game, we just don’t score.
“These games are so tight every night. It’s hard to play. We just have not finished at an opportune time.”
NOTES: With his goal and assist, Rangers LW Rick Nash is three points from 600 for his NHL career. ... New York is 13-1-0 when scoring the game’s first goal, which is second in the NHL. ... The Rangers’ line of Nash, C Derek Stepan and LW Chris Kreider combined for eight points (four goals, four assists), 12 shots on goal and a plus-nine rating in the win. ... Three Canucks forwards rank in the top 10 among league forwards for most ice time this season. C Ryan Kesler (22:29) is second, C Henrik Sedin is third (22:19) and LW Daniel Sedin (22:03) ranks fourth. .. Rangers RW Derek Dorsett accumulated five penalty minutes for his league-leading 97 minutes.