James O'Brien

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Stepan up: Rangers best Caps in overtime of Game 7

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Alex Ovechkin scored and made his presence felt in Game 7, but the New York Rangers got what matters: the win. Derek Stepan put home the 2-1 overtime game-winner, ending the Washington Capitals’ season and punching New York’s ticket to the 2015 Eastern Conference finals.

In the process, the Rangers became the first team in NHL history to rally back from 3-1 series deficits in consecutive postseasons.

With that, the two teams seem to fall into a narrative of success and failure:

The start seemed to point toward a minor Messier moment for Ovechkin. He scored a nice goal to put Washington up 1-0 and enjoyed plenty of chances throughout the game. Braden Holtby also made an impression by spurning Rick Nash on a shorthanded breakaway chance.

Things really swung in the second period, however, as they took advantage of a string of power-play opportunities to tie things up. Kevin Hayes punched in a beautiful J.T. Miller pass to make it 1-1, setting the stage for a nerve-wracking finish.

(The third period didn’t provide much action … but there was plenty of violence and personal dentistry.)

The overtime was fast and furious with both teams getting some golden chances. There was one scary stretch for the Rangers early on:

As strong as Holtby was in this series, Henrik Lundqvist & Co. move on. The legend of Lundqvist only continues:

The Rangers move on to what should be a fascinating conference final matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals, meanwhile, face an offseason full of questions as they’re forced to digest yet another punch to the gut in the playoffs.

Even after a strong game, many will question Ovechkin, especially considering the guarantee and the disappointing outcome. The one thing we can’t debate: Ovechkin (and Barry Trotz) have never made it beyond the round two of a postseason.

Video: Kevin Hayes removes his tooth, no big deal

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
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The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are going into overtime in Game 7. Here’s another chance to stream the action, which is also airing on NBCSN:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

OK, with that out of the way, things were starting to get pretty nasty in the third period. Brooks Orpik’s huge hit on Dan Boyle had a lot to do with it. These are hockey players, though, so they’re more accustomed to pulling out their own teeth than they likely are with Game 7 pressure.

Kevin Hayes has had quite a game, scoring the 1-1 goal and practicing some self dentistry:

Are we sure that big kid’s a rookie?

Video: Brooks Orpik levels Dan Boyle

orpikboyle
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Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik has a reputation for landing bone-rattling hits. He did so against New York Rangers blueliner Dan Boyle during the third period of Game 7.

More than a few people believe Orpik should have received an elbowing or roughing penalty for the huge check, but there was no whistle:

Here’s the hit in GIF form:

It’s been a tough series for Boyle, who was shaken up by a Nicklas Backstrom hit just moments before the Capitals beat the buzzer to win Game 1:

Apparently Rick Nash isn’t happy about that hit:

Boudreau: There’s ‘no doubt’ Perry will play in Game 1 of West finals

Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five
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There are plenty of questions heading into the Anaheim Ducks’ upcoming series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Bruce Boudreau’s putting a big one to rest, as he told the OC Register that he’s sure that Corey Perry will play in Game 1.

Boudreau said as much even as Perry skips a skating session or two.

“With the time we have off, there’s no rush to get Corey Perry back on the ice,” Boudreau said. “He’s going to get a couple practices before the game and he’s going to play Sunday. There’s no doubt in our minds about that.”

Many had their doubts considering how he left the ice in Game 5 against the Calgary Flames:

He looked tentative when he returned. Of course, he also scored the goal to send them to round three:

Now, Boudreau didn’t say that Perry will be 100 percent, but many would argue that few are at full-strength during this time of year.

Video: Kevin Hayes ties it on power-play beauty

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers
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The Washington Capitals kept taking penalties until the New York Rangers finally burned them for their mistakes in the second period of Game 7.

Washington took three straight penalties, including two back-to-back infractions by Mike Green, but Braden Holtby kept them in it despite some strong Rangers chances. Finally, J.T. Miller’s beautiful setup opened the door for arguably the biggest goal of big forward Kevin Hayes’ career:

With that, the score is 1-1 and the plot thickens.

Fun fact: