NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: Brad Richards (L) #19 of the New York Rangers celebrates with his teammates after Michael Del Zotto #4 scored a goal in the third period against the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Holy cow. This team is just amazing. The New York Rangers officially booked their trip to the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals, and will faceoff against the New Jersey Devils. This is the first time since 1997 that the Rangers have advanced to the third round.
It didn't take long for the Rangers to get on the board, as Brad Richards ripped one home just 90 seconds into Game 7. Richards made a great chip pass up to Carl Hagelin, who fed it back to to Richards and he ripped it under the glove of Braden Holtby. This was exactly the type of start the Rangers needed in this game, and they sure as hell answered.
Throughout the second period, the Capitals began to amp up their pressure, and pinned the Rangers in their own zone on numerous occasions. Henrik Lundqvist played out of his mind and was able to keep the Capitals off the board throughout the second period.
Surprisingly enough, throughout two periods there was only one penalty called between both teams. The Rangers were able to hold the 1-0 lead throughout the second period, and it came down to one, 20 minute period. The Rangers were able to respond with some pressure to start the third period, and they began to take back the momentum.
About halfway through the period, Michael Del Zotto would pick up a bouncing puck in the slot, and ripped it past Holtby. This was a huge goal for the Rangers as they were finally able to get the insurance goal, that they were looking for since the first period. It was a great play by Marian Gaborik to just get the shot on net, which eventually led to the goal by Michael Del Zotto.
The two goal lead didn't last very long as Roman Hamrlik chipped a shot on net that found it's way past Lundqvist. At first glance, it seemed as if Lundqvist didn't see the puck through the battle in front of his crease. To make matters worse, shortly after, Ruslan Fedotenko swatted the puck out of play, which sent the Capitals to their first power play of the night.
The Rangers responded with a huge penalty kills, and they even had a few scoring chances. One wound up being reviewed as Brian Boyle drove to the net, but the whistled blew before the puck entered the net. Nearing the end of the kill, Nicklas Backstrom took a lazy slashing penalty behind the net, which sent the Rangers to a crucial power play.
The Capitals were able to kill it off, and as it came into the final five minutes, things began to get hectic. Ryan Callahan had a huge play in the closing minutes as he pinned the puck in the Capitals zone, which killed about 45 seconds off the clock.
The Rangers were able to hold on, and are advancing to the Conference Finals! I knew this magical season couldn't come to an end this early. Now bring on the Devils!