- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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And although Richards returned to the game after being sent face-first into the boards in the third period, tempers still were flaring after the game for the push from behind that sent the veteran center to the ice, writhing in pain.
Kaleta will have a phone hearing at 3 p.m. Monday with the NHL's Department of Player Safety over the hit on Richards, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com on Monday.
"It's probably one of the most dangerous hits I've ever seen," Rangers coach John Tortorella said after the game. "It's ridiculous."
Tortorella said he was glad the Rangers got retribution -- two consecutive power-play goals after Kaleta was tossed with a game misconduct, and ultimately a win -- and was repulsed by Kaleta's actions. The Sabres' forward is a repeat offender, something that surely will be taken into account when the league looks into the play.
"It's disgusting," Tortorella said. "It's a lack of respect. Each team wants to beat the other team, but you have to respect what's going on, on the ice."
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal agreed.
"It pisses you off and gets you angry," he said. "It was a cheap hit. The biggest thing is that you want to hurt them, and were able to get two [goals]. It doesn't do that kind of hit any justice, but it was nice to score on the power play."
Kaleta shoved Richards from behind at 3:28, and Richards went sprawling into the boards, jamming his neck and landing on the ice in obvious pain. Richards immediately ditched his gloves and laid on the ice for several minutes while being looked at by team trainers.
He was able to skate off on his own and ultimately return to the game.
"Very fortunate," Richards said, still grimacing as he spoke to reporters. "So far ..."
Richards blasted Kaleta for his "stupidity," and said the hit has no place in the game.
"If we're all gonna look at each other's numbers and ram each other from behind head-first into the boards, it's gonna be a tough game to play," he said. "That's not hockey."
Richards questioned Kaleta's place in the game, as well.
"I don't know what game he plays, actually," Richards said. "He doesn't play hockey to begin with. Same guy, all the time."
Kaleta, through a team spokesperson, declined to speak with local reporters after the game.
Richards said the blow left him struggling for breath and racing to collect his thoughts.
"I hit my head, everything. I don't know where to begin," he said. "So far, that's not an issue."
Derek Stepan tallied for the Rangers seven seconds after Kaleta's checking-from-behind major penalty, and Rick Nash followed up with another power-play marker 43 seconds later to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the third.
"It was good. I got in the tunnel and heard a goal right away," Richards said. "We had to get something going, so at least we got something out of it."
After a penalty-killing effort in overtime that included 32 seconds while down two men, the Rangers edged the Sabres in the shootout with goals from both Nash and captain Ryan Callahan.
"That's great," Tortorella said of the way his team rallied around Richards after the play. "I'm glad we made them pay."
Kaleta, a repeat offender with prior suspensions, cannot be suspended for more than five games without an in-person hearing, which is required if the league is considering a ban of six games or more.