OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Chris Kreider helped get the New York Rangers back to the playoffs.
Kreider had two goals and an assist and the New York Rangers earned a postseason berth with a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
“We played pretty well away from the puck and we were able to take it home and get two points to clinch a playoff spot,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Probably caught their goalie on an off night and we were able to capitalize early.”
Dan Boyle, Mats Zuccarello and Tanner Glass also scored for the Rangers, who have 101 points.
“You have to be able to handle momentum swings and to be able to answer with a goal is a big,” Kreider said.
The Rangers have reached the playoffs in five consecutive seasons and in nine of the past 10 seasons.
Cam Talbot made 23 saves for New York, which handed Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond his first regulation-time loss.
Hammond allowed five goals on 22 shots and is 14-1-1 to start his NHL career.
“We didn’t help him and that was ultimately the difference,” Senators defenseman Marc Methot said.
The Rangers also ended Ottawa’s seven-game winning streak.
Curtis Lazar scored for the Senators as they failed to collect at least one point for just the second time in their past 18 games.
“They played better than we did from the start and we couldn’t really pick it up,” Senators captain Erik Karlsson said.
“We didn’t find a way to fight through their tight neutral zone and we didn’t really create anything to give us a chance to win.”
New York’s fifth goal knocked Hammond out of the game late in the second period.
“You’ve got to help out your goaltender, especially with Hammer since he’s stood on his head for us for so many games in a row,” Methot said. “We certainly didn’t do him any favors and it showed and we got pumped on the scoreboard.”
Hammond was replaced by Chris Driedger, who made his NHL debut. Driedger finished with 10 saves.
The Rangers took a 3-1 lead into the second period on two goals from Kreider and one from Boyle.
Kreider opened the scoring at 12:38 of the first after a fantastic pass from Derek Stepan.
The Senators tied the game just 19 seconds later when Lazar gained control of a bouncing puck in the Rangers end and beat Talbot with a quick shot from the faceoff circle.
Boyle gave the Rangers the lead at 16:40, and with one minute left in the period Kreider got his second goal of the game off a Stepan rebound that bounced straight up after Hammond made the initial save.
“I thought it was pretty sloppy for the first 10 minutes or so and then I think both teams did a good job executing the second half of that first period,” Kreider said.
At 1:42 of the second period, Zuccarello scored on a one-timer for a 4-1 lead before Glass scored at 16:02 just five seconds after emerging from the penalty box.
“It’s one of many hopefully,” Glass said.
The Senators had a 5-on-3 advantage for 34 seconds, but didn’t register a shot. They had just one shot over the final 86 seconds of the Glass minor.
Notes: Jared Cowen, Milan Michalek, Matt Puempel and Craig Anderson were scratches for the Senators. While Kevin Klein and Martin St. Louis were scratches for the Rangers.