The New York Rangers swiped a potential series clinching game right from under the Washington Capitals tonight, and forced a Game 6 on Sunday back in Washington. A late goal by Chris Kreider knotted this game up at 1-1 with under two minutes remaining, and Ryan McDonagh capped off the comeback just nine minutes into overtime. This entire series has come right down to the wire, and tonight followed that script accordingly.
Both Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist kept this a scoreless game heading into the third period, and we certainly had quite the finish to this crazy game. You can tell that with this chess match spilling over into the third period, it was going to take quite the mistake for either team to break the ice. Sure enough, at the 10:54 mark of the third period, the Rangers gave up a 2-on-0 back the other way, and the Capitals took full advantage.
Kevin Klein wound up pinching in to keep the puck alive, and so did Keith Yandle, which spelled complete disaster for the Rangers. That costly mistake gave the Capitals a clean 2-on-0 break from the red line in, and Curtis Glencross was able to give the Capitals the late 1-0 lead.
Henrik Lundqvist actually got a piece of the initial shot, but Glencross followed up his rebound and the puck bounced under Lundqvist's arm. After all of the chances the Rangers had earlier in the game, you had to figure it was going to take another fluky bounce for this game to be decided. Obviously the 2-on-0 didn't help, but the puck bouncing over Lundqvist was pretty much this entire series in a nutshell.
At this point, the Rangers looked completely disorganized and stunned after giving up the potential series clinching goal. However, they found a way to regroup in the closing minutes, and caught a lucky break to tie this game up at the 18:19 mark. Derek Stepan started the play off by lugging the puck into the zone, and curling back to the point with nothing open along the boards. Stepan found Chris Kreider coming in late, and he tossed a shot on net in hopes of catching Holtby through traffic.
Funny enough, Holtby wasn't able to track the puck through the bodies in front, and it slipped behind him to keep the Rangers alive for at least the final minute. The Rangers pushed the pace following the goal, but this game would need to be settled in overtime. Much of the back and forth action carried over to overtime, until the Rangers finally caught their break.
Jesper Fast was able to knock down a cross-ice feed from Tim Gleason, and he was able to gain the zone with some speed. He quickly dished it over to Derek Stepan, who was wide open on the far side, and looked poised to put the shot on net. However, he held up and put the puck on a tee for Ryan McDonagh, and he bombed a shot off of Gleason's skate to end the game for the Rangers.
That will now force a Game 6 back in Washington on Sunday evening, with the Rangers looking to prolong this series by one more game. The Capitals were nine minutes away from moving on, but the Rangers weren't willing to end their season tonight.