A controversial goaltender interference penalty on Marian Gaborik erased the tying goal with 3.5 seconds left in the 1-0 loss. More discouraging was the missed opportunities, especially in the third period, against a rival the Rangers have lost to twice in a row. They lost, 4-3, in a shootout Jan. 31 in New Jersey.
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"It's a tough way to end a game like that," defenseman Marc Staal said. "But we were in the position behind 1-0 with three seconds left. I think we learn from it and look forward to a big game tomorrow."
The Rangers need center Brad Richards to snap out of his slump. He has only a goal and two assists in the last 12 games after starting the season with 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in the team's first 39 games.
Richards, in his first season with the Rangers since signing a nine-year, $60-million deal last summer, admitted he is struggling.
"I'm a little lost offensively, obviously," he said. "A defensive game is the way they want to play here and I'm adapting to that. But I've got to free myself up offensively for sure."
A streaky scorer throughout his 11-year career, Richards looked like he was building momentum after recording points in back-to-back games against Boston and Winnipeg late last month. But he has one point in the four games since.
Richards, who had only 16 shifts and 17:02 of ice time in Tuesday night's game, skated on a line with Mike Rupp and Ruslan Fedotenko during Wednesday's brief practice. Players started to filter off the ice by 12:31 p.m., a little more than a half-hour after practice began. Tortorella didn't give any reason, other than to say it's a long season.
"You can't just turn it on this time of year," Richards said. "We've got to play the way we've been groomed to play."