On April 28, 2009, the Washington Capitals downed the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the two teams. The Caps had been down three games to one in the series against their former Patrick Division rivals before rebounding to win three straight and advance.
The Rangers drew first blood on a Nik Antropov goal at 5:35 of the game’s first period. Washington answered back just under 10 minutes later when Alexander Semin – with help from Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green – netted his fifth goal of the series to even the game at 1-1. Semin’s goal came on one of just two shots on goal the Caps managed in the first. New York held an 8-2 advantage in that category after the first 20 minutes.
Washington rebounded to take a 9-6 lead in second period shots on goal, but neither team scored in the middle frame. There were no power plays on either side in the second period after each team had one man-advantage opportunity in the first period.
The Caps got their second power play chance of the night early in the third when New York’s Dan Girardi was whistled for interference. The Caps didn’t score on that chance, but they gave the Rangers next to nothing in the way of scoring chances.
The Rangers got their first third-period shot on goal at 9:29 of the frame, when Ryan Callahan got a shot through to Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov. Late in the frame, the Caps took the lead. Matt Bradley shoveled the puck to Sergei Fedorov along the right wing wall in the Washington end. Fedorov skated the puck into the Rangers’ zone and stopped on a dime at the half-wall. From there, he released a wrist shot that beat New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist high to the glove side.
At the time of Fedorov’s goal, there was 4:59 remaining in the game. New York managed just one shot attempt – it was blocked – over that period as the Caps pressured the Rangers relentlessly and wouldn’t permit them to exit their own zone. The Verizon Center crowd was as loud as ever, and its din reached a crescendo in the final minute. The Rangers weren’t able to get Lundqvist to the bench for an extra attacker until there were just two seconds remaining in regulation.
The Caps outshot the Rangers 13-1 in the final frame in one of the most suffocating instances of team defense ever seen in the third period of a tied Game 7. New York managed only 10 shot attempts in the final 20 minutes; four were blocked and five missed the mark.
The victory vaulted the Capitals into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.