For Rangers, split-second means so much more

New York Rangers center Brad Richards, left, celebrates

New York Rangers center Brad Richards, left, celebrates with teammate Mike Rupp after replay determined Richards scored the game-winning goal against the Phoenix Coyotes in the final seconds of the third period. (Dec. 17, 2011) (Credit: AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It would be difficult to draw a direct line between the Rangers' victory in the final split-second Saturday night and their general well-being at this stage of the NHL season. The Phoenix Coyotes, after all, had similarly produced unlikely goals in the dying moments of the first two periods and might just as easily have prevailed in overtime or a shootout.

After consecutive losses to Dallas and St. Louis in which the Rangers totaled one goal, they took a labyrinthine path to Saturday's 3-2 victory. And they were as stunned as Phoenix's players and fans when Brad Richards' shot sneaked inside the far post at the final horn -- and a video review determined it had come with one-tenth of a second remaining.

"You just throw it in that vicinity and hope," Richards said. "It's desperate at that time. Very fortunate, obviously."

Rangers coach John Tortorella had no problem acknowledging: "We got lucky. We get a break; we win."

What happened in that tenth of a second, though, bled immediately into something bigger: two points in the standings for the Rangers, pushing their record to 18-8-4 and stimulating an endorphin release for a long, feel-good flight back to the East Coast, where they will play the Devils in New Jersey Tuesday night.

"You know what? It's a win," said Martin Biron, who made 21 saves and improved his record to 6-1-0, which took the sting out of being beaten with nine seconds to go in the first period and 52 seconds to go in the second. "A big win for us, to be able to go back after a lot of traveling.

"The game was up and down, momentum changing, the emotions changing. But we played some good hockey. We played physical, played fast. We had some guys that really turned it around for us at key moments, and that's what you take out of it."

Marian Gaborik scored twice -- to reach 300 career goals -- the first off defenseman Michael Del Zotto's precise power-play assist and the second after pouncing on a Phoenix turnover. "That was nice; we needed that, trailing going into the third," Gaborik said of his second at 1:09 of the third period, just as Phoenix was building steam.

In the end, "we probably caught a couple breaks," Richards said. "It's funny how, when you put in the work the right way, you'll catch those breaks. We found a way. We have a good bounce-back mentality."

Notes & quotes: Tortorella said defenseman Steve Eminger, who left with a right shoulder injury early in the second period, "is going to be out a while. He's hurt."

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