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Richards benched in Rangers' loss

2/14/2013

Besides the 47 seconds he was loaded up with Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik early in the third period, veteran center Brad Richards watched the rest of the period from the Rangers' bench in the team's 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders on Thursday.

Richards was not on the ice for the team's crucial 5-on-3 power-play in the final frame, nor was the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner out there with the game tied at 3 and time winding down in regulation.

Not until the opening faceoff of overtime did Richards return.

"[He] struggled," coach John Tortorella said of benching the respected alternate captain.

Asked if that was a drastic move to sit Richards with the game on the line, Tortorella said he felt compelled to make the decision.

"Yeah, I mean it's a pretty big hole, but I felt I had to," he said.

The 32-year-old center chipped in with an assist in the first period but is grappling with an eight-game goal drought that has spanned almost three weeks. Richards has two goals and eight assists in 13 games this season.

Richards' struggles are not a matter of effort, however. Of that, Tortorella wanted to make clear.

"Not at all," he said. "It's just a struggle."