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.”
The Washington Capitals thought they opened the scoring late in the second period, however the goal was immediately waved off.
On a Washington point shot, the puck deflected, then got caught up with Capitals forward Joel Ward and New York’s Derek Stepan, who were battling immediately in front of and got tangled up with Henrik Lundqvist, and trickled in behind the Rangers’ goalie.
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.
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