Rangers lose to Capitals forcing decisive Game 7
Get ready for another Game 7, the second in just over two weeks at Madison Square Garden.
Down three games to two and faced with elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday night, the Capitals edged the Rangers 2-1 behind rookie goaltender Braden Holtby to force the Saturday night showdown.
The Rangers loan goal was scored by Marian Gaborik with 50.5 seconds remaining and Henrik Lundqvist out of the net.
The Rangers talked and talked about a good start as being essential at Verizon Center because the Capitals would be desperate, and because the team that had scored first in the five games went on to win.
Just 88 seconds in, and with Anton Stralman in the box for tripping Jason Chimera on a rush, Alex Ovechkin, whose relentless energy tortured the Blueshirts all night, was somehow left alone in the slot by Ryan McDonagh. He one-timed Nicklas Backstrom's pass from the right circle past Lundqvist's outstretched glove for a 1-0 lead, which is how the period ended after the Rangers failed to connect on two power plays.
Ovechkin, who has goals in three of the last five games, almost had his second with a quick flip shot from the left doorstep, but hit the crossbar with 7:05 left in the first. Brandon Prust was so frustrated, he put his stick between the Russian star's legs and yanked. Ovechkin didn't retaliate, just skated to the bench doubled over.
The real power-play issue surfaced in the second period, with the Rangers down 2-0 on Chimera's tap in at 10:59. Jeff Halpern, subbing for the injured Jay Beagle, opened a gash on John Mitchell's nose and the Blueshirts had the man advantage for the next four minutes.
They managed just three shots on Holtby, who finished with 30 saves, didn't give the Rangers many second chances, and has not lost back to back-to-back games in his 29 career starts. Lundqvist, who made 21 saves, came in with a 1.70 GAA, and Holtby was at 2.02.
Nothing went right for the Rangers. Not even John Tortorella's timeout at 9:23 in the second when the Rangers were called for icing. The ensuing faceoff was lost and Chimera, behind Marc Staal and in the right spot to the left of Lundqvist, tapped in John Carlson's shot that bounced off Backstrom.
Early in the third, Mike Green's delay of game penalty gave the Blueshirts their fifth power power play, and little changed. Extra passes, not much traffic, not much energy. They were better 5-on-5.
Lundqvist kept the Rangers down by two, in the third with several diving stops.
The contest extended a dramatic, hard-fought series that included an epic Game 3, which Gaborik won in triple-overtime here, and an incredible comeback in Game 5, when, with the Rangers trailing 2-1, Brad Richards scored with 7.6 second left to tie the score and Staal's slap shot zipped past Holtby at 1:35 of overtime.
The series opened with a 3-1 Rangers win at Madison Square Garden on April 28, but the Caps responded with a 3-2 victory and left New York with a split. After the three-overtime drama, the Caps rebounded with another 3-2 win in Game 4 to forge a 2-2 tie.
In the six games, Brad Richards has three goals and Artem Anisimov and Gaborik three apiece. Three defensemen, Michael Del Zotto, Stralman and Staal had goals, as did captain Ryan Callahan and rookie Chris Kreider, who played very little Wednesday night.
Game 7 will be played on Saturday.