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74-75? Richards game-winner gives Rangers shot at 8 straight

Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers

Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal against the New York Islanders with teammate Brandon Dubinsky #17. (Nov. 15, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

First, where were you during the 74-75 season? I was working news-side at a paper in Connecticut. I feel ancient just thinking about it. Anyway, that was the last time the Rangers won eight straight games. They have a shot to equal that mark on Saturday at Bell Centre in Montreal, one of the toughest buildings for visiting teams. No. 7 was the 4-2 defeat of the Isles, in another challenging building for the Blueshirts, here in Uniondale.

“Whenever you play in this damn building it’s up and down," coach John Tortorella said. “I thought we were good for periods of time. I thought we were brutal for periods of times. But the thing that stands out is we found a way to win another hockey game.”

The quick recap:

In the 16th game of the season, Brad Richards finally got to wear the black fedora that he brought back to New York from Europe.

The so-called Broadway hat is passed on to the game MVP after a Rangers win, and Richards’ slap shot at 15:05 of the third period that whistled by goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and snapped a 2-2 tie was just enough for the Blueshirts to extend their winning streak to seven games tonight.

Richards’ sixth goal of the season came when Brandon Dubinsky gloved down a clearing attempt by Josh Bailey in the high slot. Richards was lurking on his left. “As soon as he got it, he made a good play because guys pressured him right away,” said Richards. “I was open and I was hoping I was going to get. He gave me time to walk into it.”

Hanging in has been the formula for the streak, which can be extended to eight this weekend against the Canadiens, when the Rangers visit Montreal on Saturday.

“We’re not the type of team that blows game wide open,” said Dubinsky. “We’ve been in this position so many times, it’s helped us out with our confidence level. Rather than taking chances, we stay patient.”

On the game-winner, Dubinsky moved fast, however.

“I was kinda on my way back (toward center ice),” he said. “I think they were a little tired and I just saw them flip it. I just got there in time and jumped up. I was able to corral it pretty quickly and then I saw Brad by himself on the side. It was a heckuva shot.”

The Islanders pressured at the end, pulling Nabokov, but Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 31 saves, barred the door.

“It doesn’t get old watching him makes those saves,” said Ryan Callahan, who set up Steve Eminger in the crease with a highlight reel pass at 6:07 of the second and scored the fourth and final goal with one second remaining on a long slapper from mid ice. “That’s what we need to win games. He’s the backbone of this team as he has been for years.”

And so far, Richards, the 31-year-old center who was signed to a nine-year, $60 million contract in July to provide points, is doing so. “It’s a long season,” said Richards, who had four shots on goal, five attempts blocked and two misses, “but right now, it’s going our way.”

Notes & Quotes

LW Aaron Voros, 30, who played for the Rangers from for two seasons before being traded to the Ducks in June 2010 for Eminger, signed a tryout contract with the AHL Whale….D Anton Stralman, signed as a free agent on Nov. 5, was a healthy scratch again. Sean Avery, who played a season-high 11:57, got the Rangers on the board first, with his second goal in two games and the Rangers are 5-0 with him in the lineup…Eminger’s goal was the 10th by a Ranger defenseman this season, fifth best in the league…The Rangers killed three consecutive power plays (four out of five overall) by Islanders in the second period, then did not score on a 5 on 3 for 1:32 late in the period....Jeff Woywitka got his third assist on Eminger's goal...Marian Gaborik had 5 of the Rangers 30 shots....Callahan, Dubinsky and Richards each were a plus-3....Brandon Prust, who fought Matt Martin in the second, played just 5:59; 46 seconds in the third period...

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