NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals were 1:41 away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Final on Friday but lost to the New York Rangers 2-1 in overtime in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.
A goal that didn't count earlier in the game could have shifted the momentum in favor of Washington, perhaps even helping eliminate New York.
Tied 0-0 with 2:09 left in the second period, the Capitals got a puck behind Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, but it was immediately waved off by referee Kevin Pollock, who was positioned to the side of the net. Defenseman Matt Niskanen's shot from the right point went in, but it was ruled that forward Joel Ward interfered with Lundqvist.
Ward and Derek Stepan were battling in front of the net.
"I thought [Ward] got pushed and he wasn't even in the crease," Niskanen said. "Lundqvist is coming out and trying to make the save, and Ward, as long as he is not in the crease, he can be there. If it was on [the Rangers'] side and they called it a goal, they are probably just irate. We think it should be a goal. [Ward] is allowed to be there."
Lundqvist had a different take.
"Obviously it's impossible for me to try to find the puck when I have a guy on top of me like that; I think it was the right call," he said. "It's tough. … I think when you have that interference like that and it's impossible to play the game, I think it's a great call by the ref."
The goal would have given the Capitals an earlier 1-0 lead. The game remained 0-0 until Capitals forward Curtis Glencross scored 10:54 into the third period. Instead of the Capitals possibly leading 2-0, Rangers forward Chris Kreider tied it 1-1 with his goal with 1:41 left in the third period.
Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh scored 9:37 into overtime to create the need for Game 6 on Sunday in Washington (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
The Capitals, who haven't reached a conference final in 17 years, lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.
"[The referees] said that there was incidental contact," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We felt obviously [Ward] was pushed in. They made the call and that was that. We just deal with it and move on.
"I felt two things: that Lundqvist came out outside the blue and engaged a little bit of contact, and then Ward was pushed in."
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who made 41 saves, said the call was disappointing.
"Obviously it's a bit frustrating when a goal is called back, but you move forward," he said. "It was a play that you look at that could have been called either way. It could have been a good goal. Those moments ... we crash the net, we try and put bodies in front, try and score goals like that, and doing that, sometimes you get calls like that."