If Jalen Brunson was drawing Willis Reed comparisons during the Knicks’ playoff run, then Chris Kreider surely should be drawing comparisons to Mark Messier after his heroic Game 6 performance to lift the Rangers to a series victory over the Hurricanes. 

Kreider scored three goals in nine minutes, joining only Wayne Gretzky and Messier among Rangers who have scored a hat trick in any period of a playoff game. 

Messier’s hat trick came in the “Guarantee Game” against the Devils during the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, while Gretzky’s came three years later in the first round against the Panthers. 

Thursday night’s effort by Kreider added to the lore that has engulfed the Rangers’ (as well as the Knicks) run during the postseason with comparisons to 1994 abound. 

“He always comes up big when the team needs him the most,” Barclay Goodrow told reporters after the game. “Tonight was a perfect example. Before the third period started he said, ‘I know I’m going to get one here’ and then he goes out and gets three. He’s clutch, he comes up big every time and he’s a great guy to play with.” 

Kreider’s first goal of the night helped the Rangers pull within one of the Canes with 13:17 left in the game. 

Follow The Post’s coverage of the Rangers in the NHL playoffs

After Mika Zibanejad tried to bank it off Frederik Andersen, Kreider was able to find a way to push the loose puck over the line for the goal. 

His second goal tied the game when he redirected a shot from the high slot with 8:07 left on the clock. 

Kreider silenced the crowd in Carolina with his third goal – and had Rangers fans flinging their hats at a watch party at Madison Square Garden – when he easily finished on a pass from Ryan Lindgren. 

The Rangers will now wait to face either the Florida Panthers or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.

2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.