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Richards: Winner more than another clutch moment

by Corey Masisak

PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Richards has six game-winning goals in his first season with the New York Rangers, and scoring with one-tenth of a second left in the third period -- like he did Dec. 17 against Phoenix -- would be the most memorable one most years.

Not in a Winter Classic year, though.

Richards won't get to play in front of nearly 47,000 people in a rink built on top of a baseball field most years, either. He was able to help the Rangers rally from a two-goal deficit Monday and defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the Bridgestone 2012 NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

"It is a lot better when you win it," Richards said. "We would have forgot about it pretty quick and hated it, but now we can enjoy it for a day or two and think back on it. It came and went pretty quick, but it was an amazing experience."


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Mike Rupp started the rally with pair of goals, and Richards completed it at 5:21 of the third period. The play started with Ryan Callahan sending a pass from behind the net to Brandon Dubinsky in front.

Dubinsky put two shots on net, but Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky denied them. The puck squirted to the right of the Philadelphia net after the second one and Richards was there to direct it into the net.

"The goalie was down on one side of the net and I knew I had to get it away quick," Richards said. "I had some net there to work with quickly. It just came to me and I got lucky, but it will be a great memory."

It was the 14th goal of the season for Richards, who was the marquee free agent in the NHL this past summer. He chose the Rangers and their nine-year, $60 million contract offer after also weighing pitches from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings.

While Richards began the season paired with elite sniper Marian Gaborik, he has settled in on a line with Callahan and Dubinsky.

"I think since he's been put with us, it is just I don't think guys realized how good he is down low and cycling the puck," Callahan said. "A guy like me and (Dubinsky) really try to hold onto pucks and create things off the cycle. He just seemed to fit right in there. I think if you put him with anybody, I think he's going to work and make that line better."

Richards is known as one of the best passers in the League, and he flashed that serene skill in the first period. Players always preach keeping it simple and not trying daring passes in these outdoor contests, but Richards connected with Callahan on a perfect bank pass that nearly led to a great chance for the Rangers.

He put the puck off the boards near the benches at the left wall and hit Callahan in stride, but the Rangers captain lost control of it as he broke in alone on net.

"I saw I couldn't hit him in the middle because everyone was there. I probably couldn't make that on regular ice but I was able to make it tonight for some reason," Richards said. "Yeah, I just went with it. He had some good speed but, unfortunately, I think it just bobbled on him."

Richards finished the game with four shots on net, but one in particular will help bring a smile to his face when he remembers this day for a long time.

"Just the enormity of it -- the little bit of snowfall and the wind in my face," Richards said. "All that stuff and just being outside. It was an amazing feeling and I'll never forget it."
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