NEW YORK -- Alex Ovechkin had a momentum-turning goal for the second time in three games, but it was the one he came ever so close to preventing that allowed New York to win Game 3 of this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series and give the Rangers some hope.
Brandon Dubinsky charged toward the net with the puck late in the third period of a tie game and his attempt hit Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner in the shoulder and tumbled over goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Ovechkin made a last-gasp dive to try and swipe the puck off the goal line but he couldn't quite reach it and New York had the eventual winning goal with 1:39 left to play.
"Yeah, because the puck was in front of net so I just try to save it. But it is what it is," Ovechkin said. "I think it was my mistake when we hold puck in the corner I just turn it over and then try to make a play. But again it hit my stick and goes in."
Added Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau: "We had too many guys in the corner. It is a 4-on-4 situation and they come out and Dubinsky throws it at the net, hits our guy in the shoulder and bounces over our goaltender and in the net. It counts."
It was the third one-goal lead of the game for the Rangers, and Ovechkin played a part in rallying his team from the first two. For the second time in three games in this series he scored a goal to tie the contest at one.
Ovechkin got tangled up with Brian Boyle along the right wall and then the Rangers forward put his stick out and tripped him as he tried to get back to the blue line to avoid an icing call. Undaunted, Ovechkin got back to his feet and skated toward the left post.
Lundqvist might have been distracted by Mike Green getting knocked down by Mac Staal between the circles a split-second before Jason Arnott sent the puck toward the net. Ovechkin was waiting for it, and deflected it under the crossbar for his second goal of the series.
Both goals have come with Ovechkin a stick length away from the crease or closer. Fans at Madison Square Garden were anxious for the first 25 minutes before Erik Christensen put the Rangers ahead and exuberant after, but Ovechkin's tally evened the score and quelled the home team's momentum.
"We got energy from that," Backstrom said of Ovechkin's goal. "We were playing PK like almost the whole second period. That was a momentum change too. We got energy from that and we tried to get going."
Ovechkin also ended up with the second assist on Washington's second goal. He sent a pass from near the left point to Backstrom with the Capitals on the power play and down 2-1 in the third period. Backstrom one-timed the pass and Mike Knuble was there near the edge of the crease to bang home the rebound.
Washington was able to erase two one-goal leads, but not a third.
"There have been so many [close] games this year and even in this series," Knuble said. "They're all close games and you're tied going into the third period on the road. That's a good spot and we're extremely comfortable playing in that. Sometimes your number is going to come up and they ended up chipping one in with two minutes left. What can you say?"
Ovechkin finished with a goal, an assist and five hits but his deflection was the only shot he put on net in seven attempts. He was also on the ice for each of New York's final two goals. He and John Carlson both might have had a chance to mark Vinny Prospal on the weak side, but the Rangers forward slipped into an opening between them and had an easy tap-in to make it 2-1 after Marc Staal's shot caught Neuvirth in the shoulder and deflected that way.
"It was comme si, comme ca (so-so)," Boudreau said of Ovechkin's game. "I thought he had opportunities to score, but the at the same time I thought his play without the puck wasn't as good as its been in the last 30 [games]. I'm sure that's an emotional part. You want to do so much, especially when the other team has three one-goal leads."
It was kind of touching. I didn't know really what to expect. I'm very appreciative and thankful for the people that supported me in my time here ... as I said, we'll move back to the area at some point in our life.
— Toronto coach Randy Carlyle on the video tribute and ovation he received in his first game back in Anaheim, a 3-1 win for the Maple Leafs