Don’t call it a comeback. Brad Richards has played the same game all year.
“My game hasn’t been that much different,” Richards said after the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Devils Sunday afternoon at the Garden.
The center finished the match with two points, and now has seven points (four goals and three assists) in the last three games.
“Hopefully they keep coming.”
Even though head coach John Tortorella prefers not to publicly rank his lines, Richards has become the third-line center following the trade deadline acquisitions of Ryane Clowe, Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore.
Centering Clowe and Mats Zuccarello, Richards has 11 points in the 10 games since the April 3 deadline.
“[It’s] been an up-and-down year,” Richards said. “We want more consistency.”
Let’s just say NHL referees Chris Rooney and Francois St. Laurent should not ask the Devils to offer any job assessment evaluations.
The Devils were penalized seven times for a total of 14 minutes. Of the Devils’ seven penalties, two were bench minors and one was a game misconduct assessed to head coach Pete DeBoer with 15 seconds remaining.
“He knows we’re out of the playoffs and everybody is frustrated and just 15 seconds left,” Ilya Kovalchuk told reporters when asked about DeBoer’s ejection. “You don’t have to put on a show. We all respect the refs and we know their job is not easy, but you just have to respect the other people too.”
“A little frustration on my part that two of our players would get unsportsmanlike conducts in an elimination game,” DeBoer said. “The sensitivity of some of the officials is beyond me.”
Rooney was part of the officiating team which called Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final, along with referee Dan O’Rourke and linesmen Derek Amell and Jean Morin.
Midway through the first period of that game, Steve Bernier was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for boarding Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. The Kings scored three power-play goals en route to a 6-1 win that ended the Devils season.
When asked if the Devils harbored resentment toward Rooney dating back to Game 6, Ryan Carter told reporters, “I’m smart enough not to answer that.”
NHL notes …
» Despite the win, the Rangers are in eighth with the same amount of points (52) as the Senators. Ottawa holds a game in hand.
The Senators host Pittsburgh tonight. They finish the season with a game Thursday in Washington, at home Saturday night against the Flyers and in Boston Sunday night.
» Both the Rangers and Devils have three games remaining this season. The Rangers will be in Florida on Tuesday and Carolina on Thursday, while the Devils host Montreal and Pittsburgh on those days. The teams will meet at the Garden on April 27 to conclude their regular seasons.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.