GLENDALE, Ariz. – Brad Richards was just trying to shoot the puck on net before time ran out.
Swinging a backhander from the left circle as the final seconds ticked off, Richards’ shot deflected off of Keith Yandle’s right leg and found its way into the Coyotes net with 0.1 seconds remaining to give the Rangers a dramatic 3-2 win over Phoenix.
“I was trying to throw something on the net and had no idea what would happen after that,” Richards said. “I came on the ice with 20 seconds remaining, and tried to make something happen. No, I’ve never been part of a finish like that.”
Richards’ backhanded shot from the left circle eluded goalie Mike Smith as time ran out. The game appeared to be headed to overtime, but a video replay revealed that the puck crossed the goal line in just enough time.
The loss was frustrating for the Coyotes, who have dropped six of nine.
“Mistakes keep piling up,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “You’re giving away points like this, and it’s not good. But, it is what it is.”
The Rangers rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period and snapped a two-game losing streak. Martin Gaborik’s second goal of the game tied it 2-2 just over two minutes into the period. Gaborik took advantage of Coyotes defenceman Keith Yandle’s giveaway in front.
The two goals gave Gaborik 300 in his NHL career.
“It seems like a year ago when I started,” Gaborik said. “It’s certainly a nice feeling and especially to chip in so we could get a win.”
Cal O’Reilly scored his first goal on the power play to give Phoenix a 2-1 lead with 51 seconds left in the second period. Former Rangers forward Lauri Korpikoski made it 1-1 when he got Phoenix even with nine seconds left in the first.
After scoring just one goal in their previous two losses, the Rangers came out strong with solid forechecking and a clear territorial edge. The Rangers converted their energy into a power-play goal that made it 1-0.
Defenceman Michael Del Zotto split defencemen Adrian Aucoin and Oliver Ekman-Larsson with a perfect pass onto the stick to Gaborik, who broke in alone and ripped a shot past Smith at 8:34 for his 16th of the season.
Though clearly outplayed in the first, the Coyotes tied it at the end of the period. Boyd Gordon beat Erik Christensen on a faceoff to the right of Rangers goalie Martin Biron and drew the puck back to Korpikoski, who scored his eighth of the season and second short-handed.
“I thought we played OK, but there’s really nothing to analyze about this loss,” Korpikoski said. “We stayed in there, played pretty well and then we let those two in the final period. That’s pretty much it.”
O’Reilly made it 2-1 with less than one minute left in the second period. It was his first goal for the Coyotes since he was traded to Phoenix on Oct. 28. It was just the 12th power play for the Coyotes. Only St. Louis has scored fewer.
NOTES: Korpikoski’s short-handed goal was the Coyotes’ third this season. … Gaborik’s fifth power-play goal tied him with captain Ryan Callahan for the team lead. … Former Coyotes forward Wojtek Wolski missed his 19th straight game for the Rangers because of a groin injury sustained Nov. 3. … C Mike Rupp returned to the New York lineup following a knee injury.