Kreider helps Rangers rout Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The New York Rangers like it best this way, when they’re doing the quick-strike scoring.
“It gives you a leg up,” said center Chris Kreider, who scored in the opening minute of the first and third periods in the Rangers’ 6-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night at PNC Arena. “It happened to us (the other way) earlier in the season.”
But now, the Rangers are moving in the right direction, winning their second game in a row and for eighth time in the last 10 games.
Kreider was the recipient of crisp, on-the-mark passes from Brendan Smith and Mats Zuccarello to set up his goals.
“Just trying not to screw those plays up, really,” Kreider said.
Kreider and Mika Zibanejad scored in the first 2:26. Paul Carey also found the net for the Rangers, who won their second game in a row and reached the six-goal mark for only the second time this season.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for the Rangers (11-9-2), who improved to 3-5-0 on the road.
“We made the simple plays,” Smith said.
The Rangers scored in the first minute for the first time this season. They hadn’t posted a goal in the opening minute of a road game since January 2015.
“We moved the puck up and skated well,” Zibanejad said. “We stuck to our game plan. Good decisions made out there and it led to a good result.”
Sebastian Aho scored in his fifth consecutive game for Carolina (9-7-4), which had picked up at least one point in seven of its previous eight games.
Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling stopped 21 shots, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the team’s most lopsided loss of the season. It was only the Hurricanes’ second setback by more than a two-goal margin.
“You don’t forget that,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “We were slow. We were slow to pucks. We were slow defensively, and when we did close we weren’t physical enough.”
Smith, a defenseman, logged extra time with defenseman Ryan McDonagh missing the game with an injury.
“You need guys to step up and we needed guys to step up on (defense),” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “This was probably Smitty’s best game of the year both offensive and defensively. It’s what we talked about and that’s what the guys went out and did.”
Kreider scored 52 seconds into the game. The second goal came 1:34 later when Zibanejad flipped the puck toward the net from just outside the blue line and Darling whiffed on an attempt to glove it.
“I don’t know if I’ll celebrate that,” Zibanejad said.
The Hurricanes bounced back when Aho scored on a power play with 11:10 to play in the first period. Teuvo Teravainen pushed his assists streak to five games with that pass that set up Aho’s shot from the right side.
Following an extended possession for the Hurricanes, the Rangers responded with Carey’s rebound goal with 9:13 left in the first.
Zibanejad, who has a team-high 11 goals, has scored in three of the last four games.
Lundqvist, starting for the 10th game in a row, was tested with 17 first-period shots.
Kreider’s second goal came on a power play 20 seconds into the third period, increasing New York’s lead to 4-1.
That seemed most devastating for the Hurricanes.
“That was the air out of the balloon for us,” Peters said. “It got away from us.”
Both of Fast’s goals came in the third period.
NOTES: The Hurricanes had a three-game home winning streak snapped against the Rangers. ... This was the first of four meetings this season. ... Rangers D Ryan McDonagh missed a game for the first time this season, staying home with an abdominal injury. ... Carolina RW Justin Williams appeared in his 1,100th NHL game, becoming only the second member of the 2000 draft class to reach that plateau. Scott Hartnell is the other. ... Hurricanes C Victor Rask was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row. ... The Rangers are home against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, beginning a four-game homestand. ... The Hurricanes play the third contest of a four-game homestand Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.