Braden Holtby

Video: Rangers stay alive against Capitals with OT victory

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The New York Rangers were less than two minutes away from their season ending. They couldn’t seem to find a way to score on Braden Holtby.

Then Chris Kreider buried a snap shot with 1:41 remaining in regulation to force overtime, and Ryan McDonagh won it at 9:37 of the extra period, as the Rangers came back to earn a 2-1 victory in Game 5 against the Washington Capitals.

That is now the fifth time in these playoffs the Rangers have won by a score of 2-1. Every game they’ve played in this post-season — and they’re now up to 10 — has been decided by a single goal.

Game 6 goes Sunday in Washington.

For the longest time, it seemed the Rangers, despite holding the edge in shots, couldn’t solve Holtby, who was solid from the beginning, as illustrated with this quick left-pad save on Martin St. Louis early in the opening period when the Capitals were really under pressure.

Holtby made 41 saves in the loss.

Things looked even more dire for the Rangers when Curtis Glencross scored on a breakaway to give the visitors a 1-0 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the third period.

There was a controversial moment in the second period, as the Capitals appeared to score, only to have the goal waved off. There was traffic in front of Henrik Lundqvist, who ended up getting tangled with Joel Ward and Derek Stepan before the puck trickled in behind him.

From CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley, citing an explanation from the NHL:

“The goaltender wasn’t allowed to play his position in the crease. Incidental contact.”

Video: Kreider solves Holtby to send Game 5 to overtime

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Chris Kreider was finally able to solve Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, at the most critical of times.

Kreider’s goal on a snap shot with 1:41 left in the third period finally got the Rangers on the board, sending Game 5 to overtime with New York needing a win to stave off elimination. Just after the midway mark of the third period, Curtis Glencross scored to give Washington a 1-0 lead.

Video: Holtby denies St. Louis with quick left pad save

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There was no score between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in the first period of Game 5, and the Capitals can thank goalie Braden Holtby for that.

Holtby was busy, particularly in the first half of the period when the shots were 11-2 New York at one point. His best save came on Martin St. Louis.

Holtby suddenly threw out the left pad to deny St. Louis in close on a cross-ice pass from Rick Nash, keeping the Rangers off the board. Through the first four games of this series, Holtby had allowed just five goals, with three of those coming in Game 2. He also has a save percentage this post-season of .950. Not bad.

So…what should the Wild do with Dubnyk?

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There’s no two ways about it — Devan Dubnyk saved the Minnesota Wild’s season.

Before he joined them in January, they couldn’t get a save and were losing because of it. After he joined them, he was so good the biggest debate was whether he needed a rest. And for that, he was named a Vezina Trophy finalist.

But the Dubnyk magic eventually ran out. The 29-year-old went 4-6 in the playoffs with a .908 save percentage. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

So, what should the Wild do? They still have two goalies — Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper — signed for next season. Kuemper, just 25, could still be a very good NHL netminder. Backstrom, unfortunately, may not even be good enough to back up next season. (And don’t underestimate the importance of the back-up. It can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. Just ask a team like the Dallas Stars.)

Chances are, GM Chuck Fletcher will at least attempt to re-sign Dubnyk. The challenge will be to get him under contract for a reasonable cap hit, as well as a term that limits the club’s long-term risk. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about goaltending in 2014-15, it’s that goaltending is extremely unpredictable.

The last thing the Wild will want to do is what the Coyotes did with Mike Smith, which is make a huge commitment to a guy based essentially on one excellent season, only to end up “married” to a guy with some of the worst numbers in the league. (Need we remind you of Dubnyk’s numbers in 2013-14?)

Of course, on the other hand, a team that doesn’t have goaltending is a team that has almost zero chance of consistently winning. (See: the Minnesota Wild, before Dubnyk.) Can the Wild really afford to let a Vezina Trophy finalist walk away?

Hence, the fascinating conundrum for GMs. Goaltending is the one position you absolutely cannot live without. While at the same time, it’s the one position where you can roll the dice on an inexpensive option and have it work out rather nicely for you.

Case in point, Braden Holtby’s cap hit is less than $2 million. He’s been pretty good for the Capitals, no? And let’s not forget about the Ducks, still very much alive in the playoffs, after gambling on two goalies for less than $2 million.

Try rolling the dice on a No. 1 center or d-man for less than $2 million and see how it works out.

Anyway, we don’t envy Fletcher here. He’s got a huge decision to make. And whatever choice he makes is fraught with risk.

Andre’s gigantic game: Caps push Rangers to the brink

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Despite minuscule margins of error, the Washington Capitals now have a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers after a 2-1 win in Game 4.

Much like in Game 3, Braden Holtby was brilliant. This time around, the other Capitals hero was young gun Andre Burakovsky. He scored both of Washington’s goals, and each one was dazzling.

Click here for the first one and observe the game-winning beauty below:

Burakovsky scored his first two playoff goals in this game … and each one was artful.

Holtby’s highlight-reel moment won’t get buried too much, however, as his penalty-shot save on Carl Hagelin ranks as another masterpiece:

The Rangers and Capitals played another tight, close game, with New York carrying the first period, Washington turning it up a notch in the second and the third being pretty even.

Ultimately, the difference in this series has been a handful of Capitals forwards making huge plays (Alex Ovechkin’s beautiful goals, Burakovsky’s big night) and Holtby pulling off the rare feat of upstaging goaltending superstar Henrik Lundqvist.

To some, it might not seem fair that this series is 3-1, but the bottom line is that Washington managed that lead. The Rangers are just one loss from seeing their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season go down in flames against an all-too-familiar foe by an agonizingly small difference in bounces, breaks and big plays.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.