NEW YORK – It’s always the add-on goals that really count, even with a three tally lead.
So when the Rangers took a 3-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens after one in their eventual 5-3 win, you knew other light of the lamp will be needed.
And that may be the reason why general manager Glen Sather went out and signed Brad Richards to a hefty contract this off-season. The Rangers newest pivot-man was able to score late in the second for the eventual game winner and made a one goal game into a two goal lead.
“It was huge”, said goalie Henrik Lundqvist who stopped 25 of 28 shots. “The momentum was about to change – it already had changed a little bit – so that goal got us back into the game and it felt like we were on top again. He’s a big player that makes big plays at big times and that one was huge for us.”
It was huge because it allowed the Rangers to play their game in the third and not try to be too fine.
It was huge because the Blueshirts got a valuable 2-points against a team they may be fighting for a playoff spot come April.
It was huge because the Rangers have won three in a row with the lowly Winnipeg Jets coming into the Garden tonight.
“We looked at the opportunity of a six game home stand,” Richards said. “The Leafs game was tough – we hadn’t been home in a long time and we didn’t play the way we wanted. But we kept going, and building on things. We looked at it as an opportunity. If we could get some wins at home, get ourselves back into a good, regular NHL routine, and get our feet under us as we go. Our schedule kind of permits us to get those home wins, take care of that, then we can get some rest and regroup, while playing and getting a couple wins. That’s a great recipe.”
With scores from Erik Christensen, Dan Girardi andf Michael Del Zotto in the first the Rangers really beat up the Canadiens and netminder Carey Price.
But as the custom, Montreal came back in the second with goals from Max Pacioretty and Andrei Kostitsyn.
A late third period goal by former Devil Brian Gionta made it close but Ryan Callahan put it away with a empty netter with 19 second left in the game.
“It was scratch and claw. Getting up 3-0 is not an easy lead,” said coach John Tortorella who won his 100th game managing on Broadway. “ It was one of those games where you’re scratching and clawing and trying to find a way to get it done.”