Sometimes, all it takes is an innocent shot thrown toward the net. Saturday night at the Phoenix Coyotes, the New York Rangers realized first-hand the perks to such a phenomenon when Brad Richards sent a backhander from the left circle that deflected off the post and crossed the goal line with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation to send the Blueshirts home 3-2 victors.
Credit the Rangers for not giving up on the play: Brandon Dubinsky holding on to the puck for a long time in the offensive zone, Ryan McDonagh recognizing time was winding down and pinching in to get it and flip a pass to Richards. And give some credit to the team for staying the course over a game that was a bit uneven.
New York began the game with a very strong first period as Marian Gaborik potted his 16th goal of the season on the power play via a perfect stretch pass from Michael Del Zotto to lead him on a break. The Rangers had nine shots to the Coyotes' five. But, the period did not end on a high note, as a lost faceoff in the defensive zone led to a Lauri Korpikoski shorthanded goal.
The Rangers fought it in the second period, and their chances at snapping their mini two-game slide decreased after Cal O'Reilly's power-play goal with 52 seconds left in the period on a scrum in front. At 3:16 of the second period, Steve Eminger left with what's been determined as a separated shoulder after receiving a huge hit from Martin Hanzal, so the Rangers had to play more than half of the game with five defensemen. The 28-year-old has really stepped up this year and looked more comfortable, playing a key second-pairing role since Michael Sauer's concussion. Tim Erixon will likely be recalled to take his place in the lineup for what's bound to be an extended period of time.
In the third period, right off the bat, Keith Yandle flubbed a pass from behind his own net, Gaborik took the puck and deposited it in the net for his 300th goal of his career. Not much else was generated the entire period ... until Richards' lucky -- and clutch -- goal.
Again, the Rangers' power play almost cost them the chance at a win, as it went 1-for-6 on the night. Giving up late-period goals also doesn't help their cause, but they were able to overcome that.
Martin Biron recorded his sixth win and now has a 1.82 goals-against average and .934 save percentage on the season.
New York will visit the streaking (five in a row) New Jersey Devils on Tuesday for what figures to be a fun one at the Prudential Center.
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