Antti Raanta (via NHL/YouTube)
Mike Richards came inches from his first goal in more than a year, but Rangers netminder Antti Raanta robbed the Capitals center with a desperation stick save that pulled the puck off the goal line.
Richards, now with the Washington Capitals, worked his way to the front of the net during the late stages of the first period Sunday when a shot came in from the point off the stick of Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt. The shot was headed well wide, but Richards managed to get enough lumber on the shot to deflect the puck back towards the Rangers’ net.
Raanta was out of position when the deflection happened and even more out of position by the time Richards took a swipe at the puck to knock it in. However, a late desperation save by Raanta saw him reach back and pull the puck right off the goal line, causing it to knick the far post and kick out to safety:
That’s how close Richards, 30, came to notching the first point of his time with the Capitals. The stop by Raanta didn’t come close to ending Washington’s barrage, though, and the Capitals lit the lamp four more times before Sunday’s contest was through to skate away with a 5-2 victory.
Raanta, 26, hasn’t had a spectacular year for the Rangers but he’s been a serviceable backup in relief of New York’s all-star netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Though Raanta hasn’t been able to pick up a win for the Rangers Nov. 15, he has posted a 4-4-1 record, one shutout, 2.30 goals-against average and .909 save percentage in 12 appearances. Even if he wins each of his outings for the rest of the season, though, Raanta isn’t likely to top his Sunday stop on Richards.