NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers celebrates with his teammates after scoring the winning goal in overtime against Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 7, 2012 in New York City. The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime 2-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Wow! What a game by the New York Rangers. On the verge of going down 3-2, heading back to Washington, they put it in full gear at the right time. Brad Richards tied up the game with 6.6 seconds left in the game, and Marc Staal won it just 1:35 into overtime. Truly amazing.
The Rangers had a commanding start to this contest, and came out with some legs to start the game. After quadrupling the Capitals in shots throughout the first, the Rangers found a way to breakthrough first. Anton Stralman broke down the side boards, and threw an off-angle shot on net, that found it's way through Braden Hotlby. This was a theme for the Rangers in the first period, as they were throwing everything possible at Braden Hotlby, and it wound up working out.
The Caps would get an equalizer in the second period coming from Brooks Laich. The puck took a strange bounce in the corner, and flipped into the slot, where Laich was standing. Lundqvist took a guess on where the shot would go, and he guess wrong. The Rangers and Caps would remain tied heading into the third period, and this honestly was the biggest period of the season.
Mike Rupp would take an early hooking penalty, which was a good one, as it prevented the Caps from gaining a scoring chance. However, it would up biting them in the rear end as the Capitals were able to get a goal coming from John Carlson. Ryan Callahan was without a stick as it was broken due to a blocked just just prior to the goal. Carlson unloaded a cannon from the middle of the ice, and the Rangers found themselves in a hole.
But this magical season found a way to live yet another day, and take a 3-2 series lead. With just over 20 seconds remaining in the game, with Lundqvist pulled, the Capitals took a late high sticking penalty. Joel Ward would receive a double minor as Carl Hagelin drew blood on the play.
On the ensuing play, the puck would find its way back to Michael Del Zotto, who threw the puck on net in a last second effort. Ryan Callahan would jam away at the loose puck, until Brad Richards came swooping in and jammed the puck under Hotly to tie the game with just 6.6 seconds left in regulation. The Garden just exploded after the goal, and from that moment on, it was the Rangers game to lose.
Since the penalty was a double minor, the Rangers would have a full 2:00 power play heading into the overtime period. The Capitals were able to kill off the first 1:30 of the penalty until the offensive zone draw that came with 30 seconds left on the power play. Now for those of you criticizing Tortorella for putting John Mitchell on the power play, he won the faceoff which led to the eventual game winning goal tonight. I'm not saying he should either, but I'm just pointing that out.
Mitchell would win the faceoff back to Marc Staal, who hesitated for a second and then ripped a slap shot through two Capitals forwards attempting to block the shot. By that time, Braden Hotlby had no time to locate the puck, and it found it's way into the back of the net. Probs to Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov who provided the extra screen in front of Hotlby as well. Unbelievable. The Rangers completed the comeback, and now find themselves heading back to Washington with a commanding 3-2 series lead. Unbelievable.
There really are no words that can describe what we just witnessed tonight. Believe, believe, believe!