LOS ANGELES -- There will certainly be time over the next two days for Chris Kreider to rue that pair of glorious chances in the first overtime period that he just could not bury.
A cross-country flight back to New York, for example, will provide ample opportunity for him to mull them over. He could spent hours replaying those shots, second-guessing his approach, staring down Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick from within the recesses of his memory.
The 23-year-old forward vowed to avoid that temptation. He doesn’t want those regrets to linger, frustration to fester as he readies himself for Game 3 on Monday. Following the New York Rangers’ 5-4 double-overtime loss in Game 2 Saturday night, there are desperate times ahead for him and his teammates, who now face a daunting task ahead while in a 2-0 hole as the series shifting back home.
“Nope,” Kreider responded, when asked if those chances will be difficult for him to digest in the next 48 hours. “They’re difficult to think about 20 to 30 minutes after the game, but on to the next one.”
In another heart-racing, white-knuckled ending to an already wild and unpredictable game, the Kings and Rangers traded prime scoring chances in overtime, testing the blood pressure of just about everyone watching.
Kreider, whose speed, size and strength has added a dangerous dynamic to the Rangers' offense this entire spring, had arguably the best of the first overtime period, when he faced Quick on a breakaway at 16:22 of the frame.
It originally looked like Kreider missed wide left, but Quick actually got a piece of the shot.
“He stopped it. Tried to go low [blocker]. Probably should've gone high [blocker]. It was a good save by him,” Kreider said. “You've got to finish there. There's nothing else to say."
Kreider had three shots total in the first overtime frame, one that followed a sloppy yet entertaining 60 minutes of regulation during which the Rangers saw another two-goal lead disappear. Neither Quick nor Henrik Lundqvist yielded anything in the first overtime period, but the Kings prevailed in the second one with a tip in front from Kings captain Dustin Brown.
“I don’t think anything changes. I think a couple crazy bounces. A couple crazy plays. Stuff goes in for them. Stuff didn’t go in for us,” Kreider said. “That’s hockey. It’s not always fair.”
His teammate Carl Hagelin can empathize with how Kreider must be feeling right now. The speedy winger had a similarly spectacular chance to end the game in the final minute of regulation in Game 1 on a breakaway, but a rolling puck prevented him from putting the game away and the Rangers lost on a bad bounce and defensive-zone gaffe that resulted in Justin Williams’ overtime winner.
“It’s never fun. It’s always good when you’re creating chances, but in games like this when it’s so close you want to make sure to score on the chances. It’s nothing you can think about too much. You’ve got to just refocus and try to get a goal in the next game,” Hagelin said.
Kreider, who picked up a secondary assist on Martin St. Louis’ power-play goal in the second period, has been a key contributor for the Rangers’ deep run this spring. The quintessential power forward has chipped in with four goals and seven assists, and has been an impactful net front presence, particularly on the power play.
The Rangers can’t afford for him to dwell on a few missed chances Saturday night. They need him back at it Monday when the Blueshirts host the Kings at Madison Square Garden.
“He’ll come back strong in Game 3,” said defenseman Anton Stralman, who was brooding over his own missed scoring opportunity in overtime as he slunk back in his dressing room stall. “He works hard. He’s fast. It’s always tough when you can’t score. I had a great chance in overtime, so that’s obviously bothering me right now. It’s a matter of putting that behind us and focusing on the next game.”
Kreider plans on moving past it just as swiftly as he dissected Saturday’s dispiriting defeat.
“We blew another two-goal lead. We lost in overtime. I had two Grade-A opportunities and didn't finish, so I have to execute better,” he said. “ I think that's my takeaway, ultimately."