We'll see you Wednesday.
The New York Rangers got the job done once again, and forced Game 7 with a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals this evening. At one point in the third period, it looked as if the Rangers had this one all but locked up. Ha, yeah right. As it usually goes with the Rangers, the Capitals scored twice within 2:53 and brought the game back from 4-1 at the halfway mark of the third period.
Henrik Lundqvist deserves all of the praise tonight after he turned away 42 of the 45 shots he faced, and was just unbelievable all night long. Watching some of the saves he made tonight was simply spectacular, and if not for him, I'm not really sure what the Rangers would have done. With the Rangers looking to make a statement early on in this game, Chris Kreider made sure it happened and fast.
Just 40 seconds into regulation, Jesper Fast sent Kreider off to the races with a beautiful reverse pass up the boards. Kreider's speed is just ridiculous when he gets a head of steam and Matt Niskanen sure found out the hard way. He was able to not only fight off Niskanen, but also kept control of the puck with one hand on his stick. At this point, Kreider had enough of a step on Niskanen to get a handle on the puck and chopped it under Braden Holtby's arm. In terms of gaining the early momentum, this goal was monumental for the Rangers.
Kreider didn't stop there, though, as he wound up converting again later in the period with under a second remaining. The Rangers had one final offensive draw before heading into the intermission, and they sure made it count. Derek Stepan won the draw cleanly back to Derick Brassard, who sent a desperation shot towards Holtby in the dying seconds. The puck took a strange bounce off of John Carlson's stick, fumbled in behind Holtby, and Kreider was waiting on the doorstep to slam home the rebound.
After reviewing the play, the goal was confirmed and the Rangers took a 2-0 lead with .3 seconds remaining on the game clock. With an energetic finish to the first period, the Capitals shut down any sort of momentum by cutting the lead in half just 28 seconds into the middle frame. Joel Ward's spin around wrist shot was able to catch Lundqvist off guard, and much like the Rangers second goal, the puck deflected in behind Lundqvist. Jason Chimera was able to work over Kevin Klein in the crease, and he tapped home the rebound to make it a 2-1 game.
From that point on, the Rangers looked a little hesitant with their play, and the Capitals pretty much controlled the play. By the end of the period, the Capitals held a 18-4 shot advantage just in the second alone but the Rangers found a way to protect their 2-1 lead. This had the feelings of yet another 2-1 finish, until Rick Nash silenced his critics 54 seconds into the third period.
Just a few seconds prior to the goal, Martin St. Louis missed on a beautiful feed at the top of the crease, but tapped it wide of the net. However, St. Louis tracked down the rebound and fed the puck back out in front to Rick Nash. Nash displayed tons of patience to wait out Holtby and shovel it by him after he committed to the shot on the short side. For Nash, that's just his second goal of the playoffs but that goal was huge to not only break his drought, but also to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead early in the third.
About four minutes after Nash made it a 3-1, Dan Boyle made things interesting by bombing a point shot past Holtby to give the Rangers a three goal lead. Following the Boyle goal, the game certainly looked all but locked up.....or so we though. The Capitals were able to pile on two quick goals and made this a one goal game with under ten minutes remaining in regulation. Somehow, the Rangers were able to hold on for dear life in the closing minutes, and forced Game 7 back at Madison Square Garden.
One of the biggest scares near the end of the game was when Ryan McDonagh went down after Alex Ovechkin drilled him into the end boards. McDonagh appeared to be favoring his shoulder, he went off to the locker room with arm hanging in pain. Thankfully, after a few minutes in the locker room, McDonagh emerged and finished out the game taking regular shifts. In a game where the Rangers already blew a 4-1 lead, it would have been crushing for them to lose McDonagh as well.
While it was certainly stressful, the Rangers always seem to find a way, and we'll see you Wednesday back at Madison Square Garden.
One more game.