Big story: After six incredibly close games that could have gone either way, it all comes down to this. One game will decide who wins this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. The home team has won all six games in this series, so the boisterous crowd at Verizon Center could play a large role in who advances to the next round.
The Capitals lead the series goal differential 12-11, so every indication is that this will be a tight matchup between two teams who will compete in a Game 7 for the third time in the past five seasons. Washington won the winner-take-all matchup in 2009 while New York advanced last year.
Rangers: New York had their collective backs against the wall Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden after the Capitals took a 3-2 series lead with a big overtime victory on Friday. New York managed to dictate the pace for much of the game, forcing Washington to take penalties. The Rangers weren't able to capitalize on any of their five opportunities with the man advantage, but those power-plays, coupled with Washington's inability to draw a penalty all game, kept momentum in New York's favor, especially in front of the raucous MSG crowd.
In a contest that truly was a game of inches, the lone goal of the game came on what appeared to be a harmless point shot from Derick Brassard. The shot deflected off the glove of Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy in front of the net and past goaltender Braden Holtby. The Capitals would pull Holtby for an extra attacker late in regulation, but Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves for the 1-0 shutout win.
"It's just a bounce and you win it, so we know we can do it," Lundqvist said. "I feel like they always come a little harder in their home building, but we can build on this one."
Capitals: The series was there for the taking for Washington, who had a prime opportunity to eliminate the Rangers Sunday. But as in the series' previous five games, the home team was buoyed by their partisan crowd. The Rangers came out aggressively to start Game 6, and Washington mostly did a good job of withstanding New York's aggressive forecheck.
Ultimately, the game turned on a single bounce off Oleksy's glove. But the postgame discussion in Washington's locker room was mostly about their lack of discipline. Although New York failed to score on any of their man advantages, all the penalties hurt any momentum the Capitals looked to establish. Particularly Mike Green's cross-checking call later in the third period with New York leading 1-0. The infraction came after Rangers forward Derek Dorsett took Green hard into the boards on a play Capitals coach Adam Oates considered highly dangerous.
"It looks like a slew foot to me. Obviously that's why Mike reacted," Oates said of the play. "Mike is not that type of player. You watch it and to me it looks like a slew foot. I realize Green is one of the guys they want to target. But that's a very dangerous play."
Who's hot: In the first playoff action of his career, Brassard has paced the Rangers attack with seven points in six games. Lundqvist has been stellar in net, stopping 179 of 191 Capitals shots. … Holtby has gone save-for-save with Lundqvist, allowing just 11 goals on 178 shots. Joel Ward has four points in his past four games.