Chris Kreider is six games into his NHL career and days shy of his 21st birthday.
And yet the Stanley Cup playoffs are anything but overwhelming for the newest New York Rangers forward, who has quickly become a hit on Broadway.
Kreider scored the go-ahead goal and then set up Brad Richards' insurance tally 90 seconds later in the third period to lift the host Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Richards made it a two-goal lead off a feed from Kreider, and gave a two-fisted punch into the glass.
Kreider, who earlier this month helped Boston College win the NCAA championship, scored the second goal of his NHL career - and these playoffs - and he did it at the perfect time to give New York a 2-1 lead 7 minutes into the third.
Both Kreider's goals have been playoff game-winners. He also had the deciding marker in New York's Game 6 victory at Ottawa when the Rangers played the first of two potential elimination games in the first round.
Kreider got into the lineup only because fellow rookie Carl Hagelin was suspended for three games when he elbowed Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson. Kreider's play kept him on the ice even after Hagelin's return.
Despite not yet playing a regular-season game, Kreider is already hearing his name chanted at Madison Square Garden. He is the first player to win an NCAA title and make his NHL debut in that year's playoffs since Wisconsin's John Byce did it with the Boston Bruins in 1990.
"It's a surreal experience," said Kreider, whose birthday is Monday, the day of Game 2.
Kings knock off Blues
Matt Greene scored shorthanded late in the second for the lead and Jonathan Quick was strong in net throughout as the Los Angeles Kings beat the host St. Louis Blues, 3-1, in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.
- Staff and wire reports