For a quick five seconds last night it seems as if No. 19 in blue was No. 4 in black, doing his best Bobby Orr imitation.
With about five minutes remaining in the first period, Rangers forward Brad Richards took the puck from behind his own net, split the Red Wings defense like the Red Sea, and put one between Ty Conklin’s legs to make it 1-1.
That kept the momentum going in the Rangers’ favor, and it was the only goal they scored until Ryan Callahan’s overtime wrist shot gave them a 2-1 win at Madison Square Garden.
“They took away the delay, so I just tried to take my ice to see what would happen, if someone would come to me,” Richards said of his power-play goal, his 24th of the season. “I got a head of steam and had a lot of ice to play on, so I just decided to keep going.”
In game that was often defined by bouncing pucks and the quick-stick checks of the Red Wings, Richards’ end-to-end score was a rare moment of elegance.
“It just parted for Richie and he took it,” coach John Tortorella said. “Brad’s game — he’s just seeing things better. He’s allowing himself to play. That’s just creativity on his part.”
Richards was acutely aware of the struggles that he went through in the middle part of the season, scoring just three goals in a 27-game stretch from mid-January to mid-March. But he’s now scored six in his past seven games, in addition to five assists to take his season point total to 57, second on the team behind only Marian Gaborik’s 66.
“Through the middle of the season I fought it,” Richards said. “I probably carried it a little too much, and it got to me.”
Richards is turning it on at the right time, and he knows it.
“This time of year comes, it’s exciting,’’ he said. “Obviously, when you get a few you start to feel better about yourself.’’
Brad Richards, Richards, Rangers, Red Wings, Bobby Orr, John Tortorella, Ryan CallahanвЂ™s, the Red Wings defense