When the New York Rangers heard the explanation that Brad Richards' backhanded shot from the corner actually crossed the goal line with just .1 seconds left to play the bench exploded. As did John Tortorella, who did a fist pump in excitement over the Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
That's how much this game meant to the Rangers. That's how much a win meant to the Rangers.
After once again conceding a shorthanded goal which tied the game at one late in the first period, the Rangers found themselves down 2-1 entering the third period because of another late goal, this one banged home by Cal O'Reilly to end the second.
But the Rangers' offense came back in the third, thanks to a beautiful finish off a turnover from Marian Gaborik which opened the door for Richards' heroics in the last seconds of the game. Let's take a moment to give Gaborik a ton of credit. Gaborik scored two pretty goals last night, raising his season total up to 17 -- for the record Steven Stamkos leads the league with 20 goals.
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Michael Del Zotto also had another fantastic game, compiling an assist in 25 minutes of work. Del Zotto is another answer to the "who is going to rack up all these minutes on defense" question, and he's done a great job thus far. There are certain people out there who think Del Zotto isn't doing a good job this year. Simply put, they're dead wrong. Oh yeah, Del Zotto has a goal and nine assists his past 11 games to boot.
Speaking of the defense, Tortorella told the media after the game that Steve Eminger would be out "a while." Eminger, who separated his shoulder, has no timetable for a return.
I would have to assume this opens the door back up for Tim Erixon, who the Rangers sent down right before their matchup with the Coyotes. Erixon has played in nine NHL games this year, and averaged 15 minutes of ice time per game. In the AHL, Erixon has played in 14 games compiling a goal and 11 assists. I expect to see Erixon in the lineup for the Rangers' matchup with the Devils.
The upside for the Rangers is that Staal continues to skate hard without setbacks and is intensifying his off-ice workouts to regain strength and conditioning. He's still out indefinitely but the signs are definitely there that he'll be able to return to the Rangers' lineup, possibly still with a good portion of the season left to be played.
Thoughts on all this guys?