New York Rangers Victory Over Washington Capitals One for the Ages
The New York Rangers believe in miracles. The Rangers entered the final minute of regulation against the Washington Capitals down 2-1. Then, Capitals forward Joel Ward took a 4-minute high-sticking penalty on Carl Hagelin with 21.3 seconds left after the Rangers pulled goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers, previously 0-2 on the power play and without a shot on goal on either power play, finally put the puck in the net. Brad Richards buried the puck home past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby with 7.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 2. The puck had been loose in front of the net, previously touched by Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto before Richards slipped it past Holtby. Both Callahan and Del Zotto were credited with assists on the play.
The Rangers remained on the power play heading into overtime. John Mitchell won his face off and the puck found Marc Staal who wound up with a slap shot. The puck deflected past Holtby to give the Rangers one of the most dramatic wins in team history.
The Rangers came out of the gate strong in the first period, accumulating a total of 17 shots on goal, the most shots the Rangers have put on goal in a playoff game in sixteen years. Defenseman Anton Stralman gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first period. The goal was his third in the playoffs and first this series.
The Capitals came back, however, tying the game on a Brooks Laich goal at 8:15 of the second period. The Capitals took the lead at 4:20 in the third period on a John Carlson power play goal after Rangers forward Chris Kreider was called for a 2-minute high-sticking. The Rangers struggled to get shots past a stingy Capitals defense that continued to block shots as they have all series long. Holtby has been stellar as well, stymieing the Rangers on almost every turn. However, when it counted, the Rangers were able to finally put the puck in the net.
Both the Richards and Staal goals will go down in team history, ranking right up there with Stephane Matteau’s Game 7 goal against the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Of course, the Rangers still have to win one more game against the Capitals in order to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals but they now hold a 3-2 lead in the best of seven series.