Brad Richards hasn't had the greatest debut season for the Rangers, but he sure has a knack for scoring meaningful goals.
Richards scored with less than a second left to win a game in Phoenix, he potted the game-winner during the third period at the Winter Classic and he'd been credited with scoring the deciding goal four other times entering Thursday night's game against the Lightning. With the score tied 3-3 in overtime, Richards made it lucky number seven.
Artem Anisimov set Richards up with a perfect feed and Richards put his whole body into making his shot count. It did, lighting the lamp and keeping the Rangers clear of a losing streak on a night when they only led the game for a brief 21 seconds in the second period.
It has become cliche to talk about how the ethic of this Rangers team allows them to wash off the memories of a tough loss, a tough period or a tough goal quickly enough to turn the next game, period or goal into their favor. There are a lot of teams that would fold up after taking a 2-1 lead and then giving up two quick goals, but the Rangers aren't one of them so they just kept on coming until they found a way back into the game.
Brian Boyle was the one who finally found it, firing in a loose puck after a scramble in front, and that made it three points in the last five for Boyle. He's been snakebitten for much of this season when it comes to scoring goals, but it hasn't kept him from being a key contributor in other ways and if he's able to find some semblance of a scoring touch it would help the team immensely down the stretch.
But you get the feeling that if Boyle didn't nail that slapshot from the circle, it would have been someone else who pounced and erased the Lightning lead in time for the Rangers to avoid a second straight loss. They haven't lost two in a row since December 13 and 15, something that makes you wonder if they might actually want to get a losing skid out of their system before the start of the playoffs.
More than that, though, it reinforces your belief that this team is going to be able to do some damage once it gets into those playoffs. Their ability to shake off defeats of all stripes and come back with gusto the next game is something that should serve them quite well in a playoff series where avoiding negative streaks is paramount.
Put that together with a goalie who can carry a team, a deep roster, the ability to play physical up and down the lineup and, fingers crossed, a strong power play and you're in business. And, since we're at it, throw in the forward with a knack for winning games late because it never hurts to have that kind of mojo working for you come tournament time.