In a game that looked like it was going to be determined by the foot soldiers, it was a star who scored the game-winning goal.
Brad Richards’s goal with 4:55 remaining in the third was the game-winner in the Rangers’ 4-2 win over the Islanders Tuesday night at the Nassau Coliseum. The goal was Richards’s sixth of the season. He has 13 points in 16 games.
“That’s what he does,” Ryan Callahan said of Richards’s ability to make deciding plays late in games. “A player like that, he rises up to those occasions and he’s come up big with a couple goals to propel us to another big win.”
The Rangers have won seven in a row, equaling their longest winning streak since Oct. 2009. The Islanders meanwhile have lost five of six and fall to 4-8-3 on the season.
“You find ways to win and you start becoming a good team. Do I think we have things totally straightened out? No,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “We have a number of things and situations in games that we need to improve on. But as you go through, to keep gathering points after 16 games, getting points in 13 of them, that’s good. I think it continues to help you with your confidence.”
Sean Avery snapped a wrister past Evgeni Nabokov stickside 14:43 into the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The goal was Avery’s second of the season.
Frans Nielsen’s snapshot goal at 17:06 tied the game at 1-1.
Steve Eminger’s first goal in 30 games allowed the Rangers to re-take the advantage, 2-1. Eminger, normally a stay-at-home defenseman, pinched and one-timed a Ryan Callahan feed past Nabokov glove side. The goal concluded a play in which Callahan controlled the puck below the hash marks before finding the streaking Eminger.
“I saw him creeping in a little bit. I was trying to buy him a little bit of
time to get him back there. I saw him and made the pass,” Callahan said. He added
an empty-net goal at 19:59 and finished with two points.
Matt Moulson equalized on the power play at 13:02 of the third period. John Tavares, who controlled the puck at the right wing circle, was being defended by Ryan McDonagh. As Dan Girardi peeked, he lost Moulson, who drove to the net and tipped Tavares’s pass past Lundqvist.
“They score a power play goal to tie up the game. But once again, we don’t get down on the bench. We just keep working,” Callahan said of the Rangers’ resilience. “Confidence comes from winning and having success. We’re experiencing that right now. I think our biggest thing in this game was that we handled the momentum swings pretty well. We stayed even keeled. They tie it up late in the third and we don’t get down on the bench. We find another way to get two points.”
That way was snapshot goal off of Richards’ stick.
Follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for all the latest on the three area teams.