The New York Rangers visit the Washington Capitals today in a decisive seventh game in their National Hockey League playoff series after Derick Brassard’s second-period goal gave the Rangers a 1-0 win.
Brassard’s goal midway through the second period was all the offense the Rangers needed as goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves yesterday at New York’s Madison Square Garden for his seventh career postseason shutout.
It was the fifth straight game in the first-round series to be decided by one goal. The Rangers have lost all three games in Washington, including the last two in overtime.
“If you lose two in overtime, you’re close,” Lundqvist told reporters. “It’s just a bounce and you win it, so we know we can do it. We have to play a really hard and smart game. I feel like they always come a little harder in their home building, but we can build on this one.”
The Rangers-Capitals matchup is one of today’s two decisive Game 7’s in the Eastern Conference, where the Boston Bruins host Toronto a day after the Maple Leafs extended the series with a 2-1 victory.
The Detroit Red Wings last night became the final team from the Western Conference to earn a spot in the second round by beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on the road in a Game 7.
Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader and Valtteri Filppula scored goals for the Red Wings, who won the final two games in the series against the second-seeded Ducks. Anaheim had the NHL’s third-best record during the regular season.
Detroit, which made the playoffs for the 22nd straight year on the final day of the regular season, joins the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Four games between the Red Wings and Ducks went to overtime.
“It could have gone either way,” Zetterberg said in a televised interview. “They played a great series, but the little bounces were with us.”
The Rangers last season had Game 7 playoff wins at home against Ottawa and Washington. Now they’ll have a chance to do it on the road after Brassard extended his point streak to four games, ripping a slapshot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who was screened on the play by Rick Nash in front of the net.
“You make your legacy as a player in these types of situations,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said of tonight’s Game 7. “A number of our guys last year had a blast playing in these games. Some guys handle it and some guys don’t, but that’s what you play for, to get yourself in this type of situation and see what type of character you have, as a player individually and as a team.”
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