Winning Play: Kreider’s sleight of hand tricks Sharks

One team answered the bell on Tuesday night at San Jose.

”We were on our toes,” said Chris Kreider, after the Rangers upset the Sharks in the shootout. “We weren’t sitting back.”

The same couldn’t be said about the home team’s defensive detail, especially on Kreider’s first goal, which gave New York a 2-1 lead early in the third.

From the right point, Kevin Hayes (13) spots Brady Skjei (76) streaking down the left lane. As a winger, the point is generally Timo Meier’s (28) defensive responsibility, but when the pass connects, he’s far from Skjei.

Armed with a wealth of time and space, Skjei walks down the left wall. Kreider (20) recognized, “I see Brady’s got a step, so I just try to get open and offer him tape.”

Kreider added he didn’t do anything else to catch Skjei’s eye; that might have attracted Erik Karlsson’s (65) attention.

”It’s a read,” offered Kreider. “We have one guy going to the net.”

That’s Ryan Spooner (23), whose mere center lane presence seems to distract both Karlsson and Logan Couture (39). But that’s not the only reason why Kreider was so wide open. The long-time Ranger actually practiced some sleight of hand.

”You have to feign like you’re going to the net hard, then pop. You can’t just stand there,” revealed Kreider.

Notice how Kreider, from the corner, beelines to the net, before popping out to the right dot for the one-timer. Perhaps Karlsson was expecting the 6-foot-3 winger to park himself in front of Martin Jones. Skjei takes advantage with the bullet pass.

By the time that Karlsson realizes his error, the puck is behind Jones.

”It’s not something I usually do. I’m usually the guy at the net,” joked Kreider. “But luckily, it worked out.”

That wasn’t Kreider’s only contribution to this too-easy New York strike.

Before the Rangers’ entry, Melker Karlsson (68) deflected Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s (44) pass into the zone; the San Jose forecheck goes to work, giving Vlasic and Justin Braun a chance to change.

”Make yourself available for a pass” is a hockey cliche. Kreider does exactly that. Because the San Jose defense is changing, there are three Sharks forwards forechecking four Rangers. The extra Blueshirt is Kreider.

Credit also to blueliner Tony DeAngelo (77), who sucks the forechecking Karlsson toward him, then makes a crafty between-the-legs backhand touch pass to Kreider. This gives New York a brief 3-on-2, a barely-contested zone entry, and eventually, the 2-1 lead.