BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Brad Richards needed 896 games for his first NHL hat trick, and it came at just the right time.
Richards scored twice as the New York Rangers had five goals in a span of less than 3 minutes and he then completed the hat trick in the third period in an 8-4 rout of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
Richards has five points — four goals and an assist — in the last two games.
"I don't even really want to talk about it," Richards said. "I don't want to jinx it. It's just, if it's back now, it's a great time to have it. Let's put it that way."
Richards, who had 22 two-goal teams in his 11-year career, has 10 goals this season.
Richards scored the game's second goal — on a shot off a Sabres defenseman — as the Rangers scored a franchise-record five goals in 178 seconds and improved to 23-17-4. New York remains in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 50 points.
Carl Hagelin, Ryane Clowe, Anton Stralman, Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan also scored for New York.
Cody Hodgson, Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk scored for Buffalo, which was eliminated from the postseason picture and had its three-game winning streak stopped.
The Rangers' five goals in a span of 2:58 set a franchise record. The previous mark for fastest five goals was 3:22 in an 8-7 win over Edmonton on Feb. 15, 1985.
The scoring started with 1:18 remaining in the first period when Hagelin skated down the left side, circled behind the net and attempted to pass to Callahan in front. However, Hagelin's pass went off the right skate of the Sabres' Adam Pardy and into the net.
Then, 47 seconds later, Richards gathered a loose puck outside the right faceoff circle and fired the puck toward Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. The shot deflected off the left skate of Buffalo's Christian Ehrhoff and went between Miller's legs for a 2-0 lead with 31 seconds remaining.
With just over 3 seconds remaining in the period, Miller mishandled the puck on a dump-in, setting up Clowe for an easy goal as his backhander beat a diving Miller.
"Yeah, I just shot in on net hoping to do nothing, really, just get it on net," Clowe said. "I thought time was running out, but I quick glanced at the (time) so I thought I'd forecheck. I think he just went over the top of it and I knew he was kind of out of the net so I tried to go to my backhand and it worked."