May 19, 2012

Kreider's Game 3 goal helps Rangers win, sets NHL record

By Jesse Connolly

It was only natural that Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals seemed highly similar to Game 1 between the Devils and Rangers through two periods of play. 

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur looks on as Rangers forward Chris Kreider celebrates his third period goal in Game 3. (Getty Images)

Both games saw netminders Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur turn everything they faced aside in the first 40 minutes of action, sending both squads into the final frame scoreless. But what transpired on Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center made the two tilts practically mirror images of one another.

Just as he did in Game 1, defenseman Dan Girardi opened the scoring early in the third period, staking the Rangers to a 1-0 lead. Echoing the same scoring sequence from the series opener, rookie sensation Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass.) made it 2-0 in favor of the Blueshirts when he tipped a shot by d-man Ryan McDonagh past Brodeur with 14:44 left to go in the period.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 10 ten shots he faced in the final 20 minutes, giving him 36 saves on the afternoon for his second shutout in the series.

Brian Boyle (Hingham, Mass.) kept the familiarity theme going with 2:13 to go, assisting on an empty-net goal to close out the scoring in a 3-0 victory for New York – just as the 6-foot-7 center did in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden.

The series resumes on Monday night in New Jersey where the Rangers will look to take a commanding 3-1 lead back home to the Big Apple.

Kreider breaks playoff record

With his fifth goal of the playoffs, Kreider not only extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. He also etched his name into the NHL record books on Saturday. Kreider set a new record for most postseason goals by a player that had never suited up for a regular-season tilt.

Eddie Mazur held the previous record of four during what has to be considered one of the most intriguing hockey careers of all time.

At the age of 21, Mazur arrived from the Victoria Cougars of the Pacific Coast Hockey League and appeared in two playoff games for the Canadiens in 1951. He did not record a point. He spent the entire 1951-52 campaign with the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons but was called upon again come playoff time. He tallied twice for the Habs in five postseason contents.

A year later in 1953 – after spending the regular season with Victoria -- he helped Montreal defeat Boston in the finals to win the Stanley Cup, scoring twice in seven playoff games and adding two assists, giving him four goals and two assists in 14 career playoff games.

The following season, Mazur finally made his regular-season debut for the Habs after already joining the team for three playoff runs. He appeared in 67 games that year and picked up 21 points.

Mazur only spent 51 more games (11 of which came in the playoffs) in the NHL, including the 1954-55 campaign with Montreal (and their subsequentplayoff run) and the 1956-57 season with the Blackhawks. Most of his pro career from there on out took place in the American Hockey League. He played for the Providence Reds during his final two seasons in the AHL, notching 107 points in 136 contests. 

Kreider, who turned 21 in April, now has a line of 5-2-7 in 15 playoff games for the Rangers. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.