The New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime, taking advantage of a late high-sticking penalty to score the tying and winning goals in their National Hockey League playoff game.
The Rangers, seconds away from falling behind three-games- to-two in the best-of-seven first round series, tied the game on Brad Richards’s power-play goal at the 19:53 mark of the third period. It was the latest the Rangers have ever scored a tying goal in the postseason.
Richards knocked in a rebound 15 seconds after Washington’s Joel Ward was given a four-minute double minor for a high stick to Carl Hagelin’s face that drew blood. Ward was still in the penalty box when Marc Staal ripped a slapshot over the shoulder of Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby 1:35 into the overtime period at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“In overtime, it’s a kick in the gut when you lose it because it happens so quickly and it’s pretty exciting when you win it,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said.
The Rangers now have a 3-2 lead in the series and can advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 6 victory on May 9 in Washington. The past four games in the series have been decided by one goal.
“It’s not over yet,” Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told reporters. “We were so close, but not close enough.”
Derek Morris and Martin Hanzal scored for Phoenix as the Coyotes moved into the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators last night.
The Coyotes won their series 4-1 and next face the Los Angeles Kings for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals.
Rangers Pull Out Win
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead last night on a first-period goal by Anton Stralman before Brooks Laich got the equalizer for the Capitals midway through the second period. John Carlson then put the visitors ahead 4:20 into the final period.
After the Rangers pulled goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for an extra skater in the final minute, Ward was sent off when his stick hit Hagelin in the mouth during a faceoff in front of the Capitals’ net. With the home crowd chanting “Let’s go Rangers,” New York won the faceoff and Ryan Callahan had two shots stopped by Holtby before Richards slid the loose puck past the Washington goaltender with 6.6 seconds left.
“To be able to get that one for them and hear the Garden explode -- I haven’t heard it that loud since I’ve been here,” Callahan said.
The top-seeded Rangers, who were eliminated from the playoffs by the Capitals in 2009 and 2011, are seeking to reach the conference finals for the first time since 1997.
The Capitals have lost nine of 11 playoff series when trailing three games to two.
Tonight, the New Jersey Devils can reach the conference finals with a Game 5 win against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
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