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Rangers laud Kreider's heroics: 'He put us on his back'

Josh Lavallee / National Hockey League / Getty

Chris Kreider's third-period natural hat trick in Game 6 against the Carolina Hurricanes etched his name in New York Rangers lore, and it's no surprise he drew nothing but praise from his peers after sending his club to the Eastern Conference Final.

"He put us on his back," head coach Peter Laviolette said, per The Athletic's Peter Baugh. "At the end of the day, we needed to score goals, and this is what he does. This is what he did tonight. It was a pretty unbelievable performance by him, especially for a guy who wasn't on the ice yesterday."

Laviolette continued: "He's one of the leaders on the team for a reason. He's the elder statesman on the team, one of them. We needed that from him."

Kreider missed practice Wednesday to take a maintenance day before he put in the performance of a lifetime Thursday. The 33-year-old scored three times in nine minutes to singlehandedly erase Carolina's 3-1 lead and end the series when it looked certain the Hurricanes would force a Game 7.

"We were a little down on ourselves after the second period," said Vincent Trocheck. "Whenever you're in a spot like that, you need your big players to come up big. Chris did that tonight."

Kreider is the Rangers' longest-tenured player. He was a first-round pick in 2009 and has been a regular in New York's lineup since 2013. Over 12 seasons, Kreider's notched 552 points in 815 games and 71 more in 116 playoff appearances.

Although he was the hero, Kreider was humble when asked to assess his performance.

"It means we get to play more hockey," he said.

The Rangers will play either the Florida Panthers or Boston Bruins in Round 3. Florida leads that series 3-2.

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