NEW YORK -- Three weeks ago, Chris Kreider was celebrating winning a second straight NCAA title with his teammates from Boston College.
On Saturday, the 20-year-old left wing from Boxwood, Mass., was basking in the glow of scoring his second game-winning playoff goal for the New York Rangers.
Signed by the Rangers to an entry-level NHL contract on April 20, Kreider was tired and at the end of his shift when he blasted a slapshot past Braden Holtby 7 minutes into the third period.
Ninety seconds later, with the crowd still chanting his name, he assisted on Brad Richards goal, sending the Rangers on their way to a series-opening 3-1 victory at a rocking Madison Square Garden.
It was a surreal experience, Kreider said. I got goose bumps, obviously. I was really tired after the goal, but I didnt feel so tired when they starred chanting.
Kreider was the Rangers first pick, 19th overall, of the 2009 draft. He took an accelerated academic course load at Boston College so that he could sign with the Rangers and be eligible for the playoffs. And he has not disappointed.
Kreiders first NHL game came in the third game of the rangers first-round series against the Ottawa Senators and his first goal came four games later when he produced the game-winner in Game 6 to even the series and send it back to New York for a seventh and deciding game.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he met with his players before Kreiders arrival and told them the importance of accepting him for their playoff drive.
With the things we did in the regular season winning the Eastern Conference with 109 points, we talked about how difficult it would be for him, Tortorella said. I think the team and him have handled themselves pretty well right now.