The New York Rangers are fighting to stay alive in their second round series against the Capitals. Each game has been decided by just one goal so while Washington has a 3-2 series lead, that Capitals’ edge might not exist if Mats Zuccarello was healthy.
Zuccarello hasn’t played in the second round due to a concussion and if New York is going to get past Washington it will likely have to be without his services. The 27-year-old forward did travel with the Rangers to Washington though and while his return isn’t imminent, he is making progress, per the Bergen Record.
“He’s an upbeat person and we’d like him to be on the ice, he can’t be there right now to help us out, hopefully he’ll be there soon,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
In the meantime, Zuccarello is keeping in contact with his teammates and attended Game 5, which has been good for the Rangers’ morale.
“I think it’s great,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “It creates a little bump here. It’s good to see his face around and he’s always laughing and telling jokes and keeping it light. We’ve seen him a couple of times before that but it’s good to see him out and feeling good and out and about with the team.”
A costly mistake by Curtis Glencross led to Ryan McDonagh’s overtime winner in Game 5 sending the series back to Washington for Game 6 on Sunday night.
Glencross’ cross-ice pass in the neutral zone was picked off by Jesper Fast leading to the game-winner.
“It’s disappointing, obviously,” Glencross said per CSN Washington. “They picked off a hard pass across the ice out of the air and came back and unfortunately they put it in the back of the net.”
Glencross scored his first career playoff goal in the third period to open the scoring. The goal snapped a 19-game drought. The euphoria was short lived however.
McDonagh took a drop pass from Derek Stepan at 9:37 of the extra period and beat a screened Braden Holtby for his second of the playoffs.
“(Brooks Laich) was all alone wide,” Glencross said of his pass attempt. “If I make a pass like that he’s gone in [alone] pretty much.”
Glencross expects his team to take better advantage of opportunities on Sunday at the Verizon Center.
“That’s hockey,” Glencross said. “We didn’t seal it up and when it goes to overtime it’s a game of mistakes and they got one. We’ll be good next game and we want to finish it off in six. We’ll have short-term memory, come back on Sunday and take the series.”
The Washington Capitals lost in overtime to the New York Rangers on Friday, although there was a controversial moment in the second period, when it appeared the Capitals had taken the lead.
Instead, after contact between Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Capitals forward Joel Ward and Rangers forward Derek Stepan, the goal was immediately waved off and the game remained scoreless going into the third period.
From CSN Washington:
Here’s an explanation from series officiating manager Rob Shick, via a pool reporter:
“The goaltender wasn’t allowed to play his position in the crease. Incidental contact [by Ward]. I support the call. Results in no goal, no penalty.”
A pivotal moment in the game, the Capitals disagreed with the call but seemed to have let it go.
“We felt obviously he was pushed in,” said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz, as per the Washington Post. “But they made the call and that was it. We just deal with it and move on.”
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.”