In Kevin Hayes’ rookie season, he picked up 17 goals and 45 points and was a big part of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers. Now in his sophomore campaign, the 23-year-old former Boston College standout isn’t showing any signs of slowing.
Hayes entered Sunday’s tilt against the Calgary Flames on a two-game point streak and he extended the streak in style. After picking up a loose puck behind the Flames’ net, he swooped around, spotted rookie Oscar Lindberg streaking into the slot and then Hayes ripped a no-look, behind the back pass to set up Lindberg for the game-tying marker:
Lindberg’s shot had to get some help finding the back of the net — it glanced off the shin pad of Calgary defenseman Dougie Hamilton — but the set up was an absolute thing of beauty. Hayes drew in Flames defender Kris Russell and had him defending a forehand pass. Hayes then went with a backhand pass, which saw him nearly spin his entire body, that was placed perfectly on Lindberg’s tape and found its way past Flames netminder Jonas Hiller.
The goal was Lindberg’s fifth of the season, which is impressive considering the rookie is averaging little more than 12 minutes per game. No matter how many goals Lindberg scores in his rookie season, though, he’s not likely to see a better setup.
Hayes’ gorgeous play helped set up what was the 1-1 goal in a contest the Rangers would go on to win 4-1 to pick up their sixth win of the season. Through 10 games, the Blueshirts now sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 14 points and a 6-2-2 record.