April 23 (Bloomberg) -- The New York Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 to avoid elimination in the National Hockey League playoffs and send the first-round series back to New York for a decisive seventh game.
The Rangers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, got second-period goals from Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and rookie Chris Kreider to erase a 1-0 deficit at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa and tie the series at three games apiece.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 of 27 shots for the Rangers, who avoided becoming the second top seed to exit the playoffs in as many nights. The Los Angeles Kings yesterday ousted the Vancouver Canucks, who were the top seed in the Western Conference after posting the NHL’s best regular-season record.
The Rangers tied for the second-most points in the NHL during the regular season, earning the top seed in the East for the first time since they last won the Stanley Cup in 1994. They’ll host Game 7 on April 26 at Madison Square Garden.
New York has been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round the past two years and hasn’t won a postseason series since 2008, when it beat the New Jersey Devils in the opening round. The Senators are seeking to advance in the playoffs for the first time since reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2007.
Ottawa took the lead 7:05 into the first period, as Chris Neil ripped a 59-foot (18-meter) slapshot past Lundqvist on a power play.
The Rangers, after going 0-for-3 with a man advantage in the opening period, scored two power-play goals in the second.
Stepan tied it 8:55 into the period, tapping in a rebound less than a minute after Ottawa’s Milan Michalek was sent off for a holding penalty. Richards then gave New York a 2-1 lead by firing a 28-foot slapshot past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson with 2:52 left.
Kreider, the first player since 1987 to appear in the NHL postseason in the same year that he won a national college championship, scored his first professional goal with 41 seconds left in the second period. Kreider, who this month helped Boston College to the National Collegiate Athletic Association title, beat Anderson with a 31-foot wrist shot to push the Rangers’ advantage to 3-1.
The Senators pulled Anderson for an extra skater in the closing minutes and scored with 39 seconds left when a shot by Jason Spezza trickled past Lundqvist.
Also tonight, the Chicago Blackhawks are hosting the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 6 of their Western Conference series and need a victory to send the teams back to Phoenix for a decisive seventh game.
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