Rangers Beat Capitals to Pull Within 2-1 in NHL Playoff Series

The New York Rangers avoided falling behind three-games-to-none in their National Hockey League first-round playoff series by beating the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Derek Stepan’s tie-breaking third-period goal.

The Boston Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2, the Detroit Red Wings topped the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied for a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues in yesterday’s other NHL playoff games.

Stepan scored with six minutes, 25 seconds left to snap a 3-3 tie last night at New York’s Madison Square Garden and help the Rangers pull within 2-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series. The home team has won each of the first three games and the Rangers will host Game 4 tomorrow.

“A couple times we got the lead, they tied it back up and it can either make you or break you,” Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh told reporters. “We didn’t really change our game too much. We stayed aggressive. We just continued to play the style we wanted to play and ended up getting the big fourth goal.”

The Rangers had scored only one goal in losing the first two games of the series in Washington.

Aaron Asham, Brian Boyle and Derick Brassard scored the first three goals last night for New York, which blew leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before Stepan’s winning goal.

The Capitals had a power play in the closing minutes after a high-sticking penalty by the Rangers’ Brad Richards, and then pulled their goalie for a two-man advantage. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist denied the visitors and finished with 28 saves.


“There was a lot of determination going into this game,” Lundqvist said. “It was a must-win. We really stepped up as a group. They’re a good team and you have to respect that, but we scored some big goals.”

The Rangers had defenseman Marc Staal back in the lineup for the first time since he suffered an eye injury on March 5. Staal received a standing ovation from the New York crowd when he was introduced as part of the starting lineup.

The Bruins took a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference series against the Maple Leafs by spoiling the return of postseason hockey to Toronto for the first time since 2004. Adam McQuaid, Rich Peverley, Nathan Horton and Daniel Paille had goals for Boston before David Krejci added an empty-net tally with 1:17 remaining.

The Red Wings evened their Western Conference series at two games apiece as Damien Brunner’s overtime goal snapped a 2-2 tie last night in Detroit. Brendan Smith and Pavel Datsyuk added goals for the Red Wings, who twice rallied from one-goal deficits during the third period.

The reigning Stanley Cup-champion Kings got third-period goals from Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams last night in Los Angeles to erase a 3-2 deficit against the Blues and tie their series at two games each.

In today’s NHL playoff games, the New York Islanders host the East’s top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins, while the Ottawa Senators are home to the Montreal Canadiens. Pittsburgh and Ottawa have 2-1 series leads. In the West, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Minnesota Wild, and the Vancouver Canucks visit the San Jose Sharks.

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