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Kreider relieved after scoring for first time since Dec. 20

Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Steve Mason, left, defends against

Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Steve Mason, left, defends against New York Rangers' Chris Kreider, center, as Flyers' Matt Read, right, reaches in during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan 16, 2016, in Philadelphia. Photo Credit: AP/ Tom Mihalek

PHILADELPHIA — You could see and hear Chris Kreider’s relief from the press box.

Kreider had just scored his seventh goal and first since Dec. 20 to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 4:49 of the second period on Saturday, driving down the middle to the net and re-directing Rick Nash’s backhand pass from the right wall past Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

“I screamed wicked loud,” Kreider said afterward. “I had missed the net three times. In the first period, with Derek [Stepan] on a two on one, it bounces over my stick. Nash gives me a breakaway pass, it bounces over my stick. Now I’m off-angle, but I still have a good look, I hit a slapper and it goes wide, the puck comes around and they score.’’ That carom turned into Brayden Schenn’s goal, which provided the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

Kreider, who played a second strong game in a row and was awarded the Broadway hat as Saturday’s game MVP, downplayed his role in his goal.

“I would say it was a quintessential team goal, three or four passes there,” Kreider said. Could it be a springboard to shake his offensive struggles? “I don’t know. I’m just worried about trying to win the next game [against the Capitals Sunday],” he said. “Like this one, it means a lot because they’re a divisional opponent. Ultimately we won today, but we want to close that game out in the third period. Maybe next time.”

Blue notes

Walking down the corridor for his post-game news conference, Alain Vigneault was greeted by a round of applause from players’ moms and said they had lived up to their part of the bargain so far. ”Hopefully,” he said, “they’ll bring us the same energy [in Washington] that they brought us today.” Said Kreider: “I’m sure they’re thrilled. The coaches were giving it to them a little bit, saying the dads were 4-0 (on their trips) the last two years.” . . . Henrik Lundqvist was thinking about a pleasant Saturday evening: “We’re going with them on the train to Washington soon. It would have been a quiet ride if we had lost.”

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