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Chris Kreider's shootout goal gives Rangers their third straight win

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20)

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates with teammates after he scored the winning goal in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils in an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. The Rangers won 4-3. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Alexandar Georgiev said Sunday night that, yes, it was huge for him mentally to find a way to get the win in a rare start — especially the way it all played out, in a game that made it all the way to a shootout.

"A little bit, yeah,’’ Georgiev said moments after the Rangers beat the Devils, 4-3, after a seven-round shootout at Madison Square Garden. "That’s huge to get a win, in a big way, too. Guys were so clutch in the shootout and in the game, too. We played so good. It’s nice to get rewarded.’’

Chris Kreider scored the winner in the shootout, beating Devils substitute goalie Jonathan Bernier with a backhander after Georgiev made the save on the Devils’ Pavel Zacha.

Zacha had scored with 2:44 left in regulation to tie it at 3-3.

Before the seventh round of the shootout, the teams matched each other in each round, with Jesper Bratt and Kaapo Kakko scoring in the second round, Dougie Hamilton and Artemi Panarin succeeding in the third and Andreas Johnsson and Ryan Strome scoring in the fifth.

In the overtime, the Rangers outshot the Devils 5-1, but the one shot the Devils got was a breakaway by Bratt. He

had scored the first goal of the game, on a breakaway in the first period, but Georgiev stopped him this time.

The Rangers (9-3-3) swept the weekend back-to-back and have won three straight games. And there were some good things that came about in the victory, the biggest being the first goal of the season — and first points — for third-year forward Kaapo Kakko.

Kakko earned the secondary assist on a goal by second-year forward Alexis Lafreniere at 11:29 of the second period that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead before Hamilton tied it with a power-play goal at 13:20.

Kakko

then scored at 6:29 of the third period to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. After he stole the puck from Ryan Graves and broke into the offensive zone, he passed it to Strome in the slot and Strome passed it back. Kakko then went to the net, cut across the slot and tucked a forehand shot behind Devils starting goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, who was forced to leave in the third period after a collision in which he was hit in the head.

"It was 10, 11 games, something like that?’’ Kakko said. "It’s a long time. A lot of games. I think I got some chances right before that, but I finally got the goal, so I’m feeling a little better.’’

Kakko said he knew he eventually would score but said it felt really good to finally do it.

"You have 82 games, so I have, still time [to score],’’ he said. "I got some good chances before that, like last game, and before that. So I knew it’s going to come, and today was the day.’’

The hope is for Kakko, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, to start scoring in bunches now that he has the first one.

"The first goal is, I think, sometimes the hardest, especially like, after 10 games,’’ he said. "I think, right now, it’s going to be a little easier, and hopefully, next games, I can score some goals.’’

Adam Fox tied the score at 1-1 with his fourth goal of the season at 3:11 of the second period. Fox picked off an attempted clearing pass by the Devils’ Damon Severson in the slot, cut to his backhand and roofed the puck over Blackwood, who had shut out the Islanders in his last start. Fox’s goal snapped Blackwood’s shutout streak at 121 minutes, 42 seconds.

All was not perfect for the Rangers, however. With third-line center Filip Chytil already on injured reserve, the Blueshirts lost forward Sammy Blais to an apparent right knee injury.

New York Sports