The New York Rangers, the Presidents’ Trophy winners during the regular season, managed for now to stave off elimination in the second round, extending this series with the Washington Capitals to Game 6 at Verizon Center.
And apparently the pressure is now on the Capitals to close out this series, still leading 3-2 after a loss to the Rangers in overtime on Friday. Game 6 between these teams goes Sunday.
Cue all the chatter about whether the Rangers have put doubt into the minds of the Capitals, and about the swing of momentum.
“We are still alive. Going home now, there’s a lot of pressure for them. I know for sure they don’t want to come back here,” said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, as per Andrew Gross of The Record.
As you would expect, there are differing opinions on the matter.
“I don’t think so. We’re still the underdog in this series. Pressure’s the same no matter what,” said defenseman Karl Alzner, as per Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post.
“We’re OK right now. We knew that we would see their best effort today and we did. And … I don’t think they’ve seen ours yet,” added head coach Barry Trotz to reporters.
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.”
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.
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.
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.