Following a quiet if defensively effective first two games of the series, Mike Richards needed to contribute more in Game 3.
He took a step in the right direction on Tuesday with a stellar display that saw him dominate possession (66.7 Corsi percentage) while receiving tough zone starts (44.4 percent in the defensive zone).
Paired with Jordan Nolan and Dwight King, he saw nearly 19 minutes of action and buzzed around San Jose’s net throughout the contest.
After failing to register a shot in his first two outings of the postseason, he peppered Antti Niemi with five shots and nearly potted a crucial marker on three separate occasions. That performance served as further evidence that Richards has a much greater influence on games when he's away from Jeff Carter.
With that said, he’ll have to turn those misses into conversions if the Kings are to rally back from their series deficit.
If anyone on the roster has the pedigree to do so, however, it’s Richards. He captained the Philly team that pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Boston Bruins in 2009-10, winning four straight games to take the series in seven.
He didn’t merely produce consistently (three goals, six assists) while facing stalwarts Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron; he engineered the turnaround with a series-changing hit on David Krejci, who had registered three points in the span of two contests and the first period of Game 3.
He ended Krejci’s season and the Bruins’ quest for the Stanley Cup in one fell swoop, as they lost four straight games without their top center.
Richards is obviously no longer that player, but he showed another gear on Tuesday, and head coach Darryl Sutter must lean on him as much as possible going forward.