Nerves for New York: Caps close gap, Ovechkin hits McDonagh

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As of this writing, it’s hard to believe that the New York Rangers had a 4-1 lead in the third period. It’s been a dizzying series of events for the Rangers, as the Washington Capitals are now within striking distance with a 4-3 deficit thanks to a wild set of circumstances.

Evgeny Kuznetsov made a nice play to cut the lead down to 4-2 a little less than eight minutes into the third period (and about three-and-a-half minutes after Dan Boyle scored what seemed like a laugher of a 4-1 goal):

Joel Ward continued his hot play with Kuznetsov, scoring a surprising goal less than three minutes later to make it 4-3.

Alex Ovechkin generated some threatening attempts down the stretch, and left plenty of Rangers fans worried with a big hit on Ryan McDonagh.

McDonagh left for the locker room, but was at least able to briefly return.

Video: Kreider begins and ends first period with huge goals

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The New York Rangers are pressing the Washington Capitals hard to push this series to seven games, and Chris Kreider has figured into much of their success.

Kreider scored the tying goal with less than two minutes left in Game 5, and he was on the ice during the overtime-winner. He truly combined will and skill just 40 seconds into Game 6, as he took advantage of some open space and flat-out overpowered Matt Niskanen:

He’s not just scoring, either, as his physical style is rubbing some the wrong way. He raised Washington’s ire with a questionable hit on young forward Andre Burakovsky.

Update: Scoring 40 seconds into the first period is one thing, but what about making it 2-0 with .3 seconds remaining in the opening frame? Kreider did both, giving the Rangers what could be an enormous lead (at least considering how these two goalies are playing).

This indeed must have felt like a heart-breaker for the Capitals:

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Interesting tidbit: the Rangers have had a knack for timely scoring lately:

Video: Lundqvist gets inventive with series of saves

The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals are piling on scoring chances in Game 6, but only Chris Kreider found the net so far.

As well as Braden Holtby is performing, it seems to be advantage: Henrik Lundqvist early on. He turned some heads by making an impressive string of three successive saves, including showing a little bit of ingenuity against Troy Brouwer:

Yep, that’s impressive. Again, Holtby’s been great too, but so far “The King” is showing why he draws such royal praise.

Rangers tweak D pairs: Staal with Klein, Boyle – Yandle

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The New York Rangers are making some defensive pairing swaps in lieu of Game 6 against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

Chalk it up to matchups or any other factors, but Marc Staal has been reunited with Kevin Klein while Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle will make up one of the most expensive third defensive pairings in recent memory, as ESPN’s Katie Strang points out.

The Rangers’ top duo remains Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

Interesting to see this change with New York’s last win in mind, but the Capitals get the last change at home, so it makes some sense. The Rangers have been tough to eliminate while the Caps have had trouble putting opponents away in recent postseasons, so this could be an interesting night.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

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A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…

Rangers at Capitals, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

The Rangers will once again look to avoid elimination tonight as their series with the Washington Capitals shifts to the Verizon Center for Game 6. The series has been a showcase of outstanding goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have stopped a combined 296 of 311 shots through five games for a .952 save percentage. New York has now played in an NHL-record 12 straight one-goal playoff games. The Caps have been eliminated by the Rangers in seven games in each of their last two playoff appearances. Washington is 7-2 against New York at home in the playoffs since 2012.

Flames at Ducks, 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 the Anaheim Ducks have not made it past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Ducks have a chance to close out their second round series with the Calgary Flames in Game 5 tonight at the Honda Center. The Flames are looking to advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 when they came one win shy of capturing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. Calgary will be in tough tonight – the Flames have lost 21 straight at the Honda Center since a win on April 25, 2006. The Ducks won Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim by a combined 9-1 margin. Dave Strader and Brian Engblom have the call of Game 5.