If the Rangers didn’t know it isn’t over until it’s over, they do now after Brad Richards‘ game-winning goal with .01 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes last night from Jobing.com Arena, in what could be the final game for the Rangers in the desert.
As time dwindled down, Brandon Dubinsky— who was at the end of a very long shift— threw the puck behind the net for Ryan Callahan, whose pass to the front of the net was blocked. Ryan McDonagh eventually picked up a loose puck and found Richards at the bottom of the circle, who spun around and threw a back-hand on net that deflected off of a Coyotes defenseman and into the net as time expired.
Upon further review, it was determined the puck crossed the goal-line with .01 seconds remaining.
“We probably caught a couple of breaks tonight but we found a way,” Richards said. “On the ice, it seemed like the horn sounded but I wa not even looking at the net. I was just spinning and firing int he vicinity and hoping. We were very fortunate.”
Those bounces Richards is talking about could include a giveaway by Keith Yandle in front of his own net that led to Marian Gaborik‘s second goal of the game and 300th of his career at 1:09 of the third period. He also scored a powerplay in the first period off a great pass from Michael Del Zotto. Gaborik, who finished with 22 goals last season, has 17 goals through 30 games this season.
Del Zotto also saved a goal in his own end by knocking a floating puck that seemed destined for the net away in the second period.
“You play until the buzzer,” said Martin Biron, made 21 saves for his sixth win of the season in seven starts, though he did allow two last-minute goals in the first and second periods. “That was about the weirdest ending I’ve ever seen in this league. I was ready for overtime.”
The win was not without its price, though, as defenseman Steve Eminger suffered a separated shoulder 3:16 into the second period when he was driven into the boards by Martin Hanzel. Head coach John Tortorella said Eminger, who is in his second season with the Rangers, will be out for a while.
Mike Rupp, who returned to the lineup after nearly two months due to knee surgery, played well in his return and nearly scored a goal in the second period off a feed from Brandon Prust.
“This year, we’ve won in different ways,” Gaborik said. “It was a great win.”
Ex-Ranger Lauri Korpikoski scored the Coyotes’ first goal after Erik Christensen lost a defensive-zone faceoff with nine seconds remaining in the first period. Cal O’Rielly scored with 51.2 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Coyotes a short-lived 2-1 lead.
The Coyotes appear to be on the move next season, as the league-owned team has yet to find a local buyer willing to keep the team in Phoenix. The NHL could have another Atlanta Thrashers-type situation on its hands, with relocation— possibly to Quebec— coming as early as next season.