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.”
It didn’t take long, only 38 seconds, for New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider to make an impact on Saturday’s Game 2 against the Washington Capitals.
His goal, which came off a rebound in the first minute of play, got the Rangers started on their way to a dominant first period and an eventual win to even the series at one game apiece.
Kreider could’ve had more, too, his speed a factor throughout the game. He led all New York forwards in ice time, and had eight shot attempts to go with four hits.
“He’s a huge difference maker. He puts a big influence on the game for us the way he can skate, the way he can hit and his shot and his physicality,” said Ryan McDonagh, as per Rangers Rants. “All together it’s a tough combo to defend for anyone. It’s a good sign that he was able to get it going and he’s got to continue that for us if we want to be successful.”
Added Dan Boyle: “He’s been doing it all year. He’s the fastest player I’ve ever played with by far and I’ve played with some pretty fast players. Possibly the strongest. He’s done it all year long.”
Alex Ovechkin got the Capitals to within one midway through the third period with a highlight-reel goal.
Ovechkin split Rangers defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, and then beat Henrik Lundqvist top corner while falling.
“The guy pushed him to the outside, there were almost three guys around him and he still got a shot off his knees,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. “He’s a great player.”
Tough news out of New York today — the Rangers have announced that forward Mats Zuccarello will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury, which the Post is reporting to be a concussion.
Zuccarello was hurt in the first period of Saturday’s Game 5 series-clinching win over Pittsburgh, after taking this Ryan McDonagh shot to the helmet:
Zuccarello left the game and didn’t return.
The loss, if lengthy, will be a significant one for the Blueshirts. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 17:15 TOI this season and finished third on the team in assists, with 34. The Norwegian winger also inked a four-year, $18 million extension with New York in early March and, last year, was given the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award for being the player who, as chosen by the fans, “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
In this year’s opening round against Pittsburgh, Zuccarello had two points in five games. The Rangers will take the winner of tonight’s Caps-Isles game in Round 2.
New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello wasn’t able to join his teammates for the start of the second period in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Shortly after the frame began, the Rangers confirmed that he was done for the night.
Zuccarello was struck in the head by teammate Ryan McDonagh’s shot late in the first period. He immediately headed to the locker room, but the good news is that he did so on his own strength.
You can see the incident below:
Losing the 27-year-old forward for any amount of time would be a significant blow for the Rangers. He’s coming off of a solid regular season where he scored 15 goals and 49 points in 78 contests. That led to him signing a four-year, $18 million extension in March.
He also had two assists in the four playoff games coming into tonight’s action.