The New York Rangers are back in this series, as they tied up the series at 2-2 with yet another 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden. Although the Rangers didn't make it easy, and a lot of the fan base is currently in need of oxygen, the Rangers got it done. Derick Brassard was an absolute monster once again as he setup two more goals tonight, and has been the Rangers best forward over the last two games.
The Rangers were able to grab the first lead of the game late in the first period, after a very aggressive start to the game. Braden Holtby had a hard time playing the puck at the right faceoff dot, and wound up shooting it right into Taylor Pyatt's stick. On the mad scramble Carl Hagelin ripped a shot on net that was blocked by John Carlson, but Brad Richards picked up the loose puck and slammed it into the empty net. It was just a huge goal for the Rangers, as they were finally able to grab the first goal of the game in front of their home crowd.
The Capitals began their push back in the second period, but the Rangers were able to weather the storm, as Carl Hagelin ripped home a slap shot from just inside the right faceoff dot. Derick Brassard is the reason why this goal happens, as he makes a perfect cross-ice feed right on the tape. As it's been said from the beginning of this series, all you need to do is shoot the puck at Hottby, and Carl Hagelin made that point evident once again.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, they fell back on their 2-0 lead, and it wound up costing them quite a bit near the end of the second period. Just three minutes after Hagelin made it 2-0, Mathieu Perreault jammed home a loose puck at the side of the net, which cut the Rangers lead to 2-1. But as it's been throughout this entire series, it wouldn't be playoff hockey without the Rangers handing out heart attacks to fans like they were hotcakes. With just about 20 seconds remaining in the second period, Troy Brouwer converted on a defensive breakdown, and put a backhand right over the arm of Henrik Lundqvist, and just like that the game was tied up.
It was just a terrible collapse for the Rangers, which once again, had the Rangers depending on a big third period in order to win this game. Luckily, the Rangers were able to tap home two goals in the first seven minutes of the third period, and regained their two goal lead once again. Dan Girardi converted on the power play just a minute in as he unleashed an absolute bomb from the point, and beat Holtby through a screen in front. Now before I even get to breaking down this next goal, I just want to point how how freaking sexy this goal was.
Ryan Callahan made a great play to get the puck down to Derek Stepan, who wound up poking the puck back over to Carl Hagelin on the far post. But unexpectedly, Hagelin tapped the puck right back over to Stepan and he had a wide open net. Stepan ripped it home, and the Rangers were back on top in this game with an explosive third period, which is exactly what they needed.
But, things didn't get easier for the Rangers, as they once again decided to sit back on their lead. Karl Alzner wound up converting on a seeing eye point shot, that deflected off of the crossbar, and beat Henrik Lundqvist. But to Lundqvist's aid, the puck looked like it took a deflection off of Perreault's back and changed direction. Either way, the Rangers just couldn't catch a break in this game, and it looked awfully similar to how Game 3 played out.
The final 13 minutes of the game were as stressful as they could possibly get for both the Rangers and their entire fanbase. Henrik Lundqvist was immense at the end, as he stopped a few threatening chances from Joel Ward, including a save that he just poked wide from his backside. The Rangers played the Capitals well in the final minute, and were able to relieve some of the pressure in their own zone. They were able to hang onto the lead, and were able to tie this series up at 2-2.
There were many people that didn't believe that the Rangers were capable of doing it, but as John Tortorella would say, they found a way to get it done. Now the pressure completely shifts over the Capitals as they are faced with a big game on Friday evening in their home building.