Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers celebrates his third...

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal with teammates in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Capitals. (April 28, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Just as Marian Gaborik inscribed his name in Rangers history with the triple-overtime winner in Game 3 against the Capitals, Brad Richards, who signed a nine-year, $60-million free-agent contract last summer, will be remembered for Monday night.

"We've been talking about it all year,'' Henrik Lundqvist said after Richards' tying goal with 6.6 seconds left in regulation. "Not only on the ice, but off the ice, he knows what it takes. You could tell when the games are getting tighter, more important, he plays better.''

Richards won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004 with coach John Tortorella, who understands the center's determination. "We were kind of crawling on him earlier in the year when he was trying to find his bearings, but he's been a pretty big part of us getting this playoff seed,'' Tortorella said. "I thought he was brutal last game [a 3-2 loss in Game 4], but it was probably one of the few games he's struggled.''

Ryan Callahan said the noise after Richards' goal was phenomenal. "Twenty seconds left, they're standing up chanting 'Let's go, Rangers!' '' he said. "That fuels you. To get that one for them and hear the Garden explode -- I haven't heard it that loud since I've been here.''


No hard feelings

Capitals coach Dale Hunter said Joel Ward's costly high-sticking penalty "was an accident . . . That's the breaks of the game.'' Alex Ovechkin didn't blame Ward, either. "You can't say it was his fault,'' he said. "We all lost the game."


Lots of rubber

The Rangers had 17 shots in the first, a franchise playoff record for any period, according to the Elias Sports Bureau . . . John Mitchell, 4-0 on faceoffs, including the critical one on Marc Staal's winner, played 2:07 of his 7:34 on the power play . . . Lundqvist on Staal:"He's getting better and better, more physical. He's all over the ice, in our end making stops and joining the rush.''

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