Good Evening
Good Evening

Rangers beat Blues behind Chris Kreider’s goal, Henrik Lundqvist’s 35 saves

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist blocks a

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist blocks a shot by St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera as Oscar Lindberg helps out during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in St. Louis. Credit: AP / Billy Hurst

ST. LOUIS — For Henrik Lundqvist, the records keep coming.

Under siege for the second consecutive game, Lundqvist made 35 saves and struggling Chris Kreider scored the game-winner at 4:13 of the third period Thursday night as the Rangers edged the Blues, 2-1.

The Swedish veteran now holds the team record for most career saves, passing Mike Richter, and became the first goaltender in NHL history to earn at least 30 wins in 10 of his first 11 NHL seasons.

“I think I could feel the pressure,” Lundqvist said. “We’re getting closer and closer and it’s tight in the standings. You need to make the most of every game here . . . I’m trying to prepare like it’s the playoffs right now.”

With the score tied at 1 in the third period, coach Alain Vigneault moved Kreider off a line with Derek Stepan and Jesper Fast and replaced him with Viktor Stalberg. The turning point came soon after.

Lundqvist stopped Scottie Upshall on a breakaway, and the play turned up ice. Kreider, trailing the rush, took a backhand pass from Oscar Lindberg and beat Jake Allen above his left pad from the slot. It was the struggling left wing’s first goal in nine games.

“That play ends up being the play of the game,’’ Upshall said. “When you’re on the other side, it [stinks].’’

“That’s how it changes,” Stalberg said. “You need your goalie to be your best player some nights and steal some points for you. Tonight was no exception. He was phenomenal.”

Lundqvist then helped make Kreider’s 12th goal stand up, and Kreider credited Lindberg’s hustle that led to his goal. “It was a hard-work play. He had a guy on his back the entire way up the ice,’’ Kreider said. “He was able to put the puck in a perfect spot. Personally, I think the group is happy that we pulled this one out, considering how good a team they are and how they pretty much outplayed us much of the game.”

The lone goal by the Rangers (35-20-6, 76 points) had come from fourth-liner Tanner Glass, his second of the season, on a tip of Dan Girardi’s point shot at 13:14 of the first period. So the Rangers had only one goal by their top nine forwards in the last eight periods.

Allen made his first start in 18 games since recovering from an injury but the Rangers didn’t test him, managing only 13 shots on goal through two periods.

When Lundqvist was pushed into the net at 3:17 of the second period, David Backes went off for interference and the power play — the Rangers’ first in five periods — fizzled. They had one shot with the man advantage.

The Rangers almost gave up a goal when Kyle Brodziak missed a wide-open net while shorthanded. A frustrated Lundqvist complained that he also was hit on that play, preventing him from reaching for the shot.

Stepan rang a shot off the iron at 7:31, and the Blues tied the score after Girardi was sent off for four minutes at 13:28 for high-sticking Vladimir Tarasenko, who was cut near the right eye. Three Blues crashed the net, and with Lundqvist down, the puck trickled over the goal line after Troy Brouwer’s whack at 14:23.

After the light went on, a frustrated Lundqvist grabbed the puck out of the cage and flung it toward the boards.

But in the end, with the team heading to Dallas, the intense netminder was grinning.

New York Sports