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.