NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers celebrates with teammate Anton Stralman #32 after scoring the winning a 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)
For the most part, the NHL playoffs is an event dictated by a series of momentum swings. I'll take you back to HBO 24/7 when John Tortorella talked about hockey and he said something along the lines of: "The team that doesn't have the momentum is trying to get it as fast as they can, and the team that has it is trying to hold onto it for as long as they can."
Fitting, then, that his team was the one winning in magical fashion Monday night, sending a Garden crowd of 18,200 home in a complete state of euforia and breathing life back into a series that was moments from spiraling out of the New York Rangers hands.
For the moment, Marc Staal's goal brought sanity back to New York, while Brad Richards' left the Washington Capitals with nothing but questions. That's the way hockey works. And this was the same story after Game 4 when Mike Green gave the Capitals all the momentum an left the Rangers asking the questions.
Join me after the jump for more.
Tonight represents an opportunity for the Rangers to close out this series. Tonight marks an opportunity for the Rangers to hold onto all that precious momentum Staal gave them in overtime when his rocket from the point lit the lamp.
The Capitals are a fantastic hockey team. Anyone who thinks they're just going to roll over and die has another thing coming. Which is why it's all the more important for the Rangers to end things tonight.
There were, as usual, positives and negative that came with the win. The positives were mainly the fact that the Rangers dominated the game in just about every category. Well, except for goals. That might have changed when Richards banged home Ryan Callahan's rebound, but it still doesn't change the fact that the Rangers came inches away from losing Game 5.
Here's the best part about what happene on Monday. This team never gave up. It's just not their style. Think about those final 20 seconds when the faceoff was in the Capitals' zone, when the Garden was going insane and everyone was standing. The calmest six people in the building were on the ice for the Rangers. And they're the ones who got the job done.
Watch the goal again. Look at how smooth the puck movement is before Callahan and Richards start slamming the puck to try and bang it home. That's what makes this team special. That ice in their veins, the stone cold killer mentality and the absolute refusal to quit.
So tonight, opportunity knocks. The Rangers would love to take it.