Contrary to what was presumed earlier in the day, Chris Kreider did in fact make his NHL debut tonight, taking the place of the suspended Carl Hagelin in the Ranger line-up. Kreider saw 11:11 of ice time, all at even strength, and registered one shot. He skated primarily as the left wing on the Rangers' top line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
After playing a tentative four minutes in the first, Kreider settled in a bit in the second and early in the third. On the national broadcast, color commentator Brian Heyward said Kreider looked a bit off in the defensive zone. His final shift came midway through the third, and was spent mainly pinned in his own defensive zone as Ottawa had an extended stretch of possession. Kreider wasn't necessarily benched as a result of that shift, but with the Rangers taking the lead shortly thereafter, John Tortorella shortened his bench and went with a little more defensive responsibility by substituting Derek Stepan in for Kreider with Richards and Gaborik.
That the Rangers had a lead to protect came courtesy of another former Eagle. After being pinned in their own zone by the Senators for two consecutive shifts and with the momentum clearly in Ottawa's favor, Brian Boyle found himself in the right place in front of the Sens' net, taking a rebound off the end boards and roofing a backhander over Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson.
Five minutes later Rangers captain Ryan Callahan took a critical penalty. Boyle - sporting a bit of a shiner after getting jumped by Matt Carlson in Game 2 - started the penalty kill by blocking a shot at the top of the circles, corralled the ricochet in the neutral zone, and went in on a shorthanded breakaway. Though Boyle was denied his second goal of the night he managed to draw a slashing penalty, negating the remaining 93 seconds of the Ottawa power play. Then, at the end of those 93 seconds of 4 on 4, Boyle hit Callahan with a home run pass coming out of the box. Callahan was robbed on the ensuing breakaway.
While Boyle had a very solid season for the Rangers, including some memorable moments on HBO's 24/7, his scoring was down markedly from last season's career high of 21 goals. He finished the regular season strong however, with five goals and two assists in his final eight games. That hot streak has continued into the playoffs, which a goal in each of the first three games, including the game winner in Games 1 & 3.
Boyle and Kreider will return to the ice on Wednesday for Game Four.