The New York Rangers were 6.6 seconds from heading back to Washington,D.C. down 3-2 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals. Enter Brad Richards: elite center, playoff performer and Monday night’s hero.
When Joel Ward went to the penalty box for a high sticking double minor, no one thought it would be the difference considering the time left on the clock.
The Rangers have played in 12 playoff games up to this point and in those 12 games, Brad Richards has 10 points. Richards’ five goals and five assists places him fourth in scoring during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is the type of production the Rangers expected from Richards.
He is playing like the clutch playoff performer he is known for and his game tying goal with 6.6 seconds left in regulation was just another clutch performance for the 12 million dollar man.
In a postgame interview the man of the hour put the goal into perspective like no one else could.
(Via New York Times)
“I can’t say I envisioned a goal in the final seconds to send a game to overtime, but an important goal in the playoffs and with the crowd going crazy? Yes, that’s what you dream of,” Richards said. “I love playing in the Garden.”
Richards certainly sent the Garden into a frenzy after lighting the lamp and it just seemed like destiny that he would be the one to score a huge goal considering he has done it all year long.
Richards scored a clutch goals for the Rangers during the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic in Philadelphia, a game winner with seconds remaining in Phoenix against the Coyotes and an overtime thriller against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The list goes on an on as Richards was fifth in game-winning-goals with nine game winners during the regular season but Monday’s goal was arguably the Rangers’ biggest goal scored in the last 15 years.
Richards looks calm, cool and collected when he has the puck and that was evident during most of Game 5 as the Rangers’ top line was buzzing all night long. Christopher Botta of the New York Times summed it up nicely after speaking with Brian Boyle and Brad Richards.
“They were buzzing the whole game,” Rangers center Brian Boyle said. “I thought they deserved a goal. Their timing could not have been better.”
Richards said: “You feel like you’re going to get a chance coming down the stretch, and someone has to bury it. There wasn’t much said. Everybody was pretty focused.”
With the 3-2 series lead, the Rangers will look to finish the job in Washington on Wednesday. After defeating the Capitals in a triple overtime thriller in Game 3 and edging out the Caps once again in heartbreaking fashion on Monday, there is a good chance the Blueshirts will advance to their first Eastern Conference final since 1997.