NEW YORK -- Chris Kreider provided the spark the New York Rangers needed to extend their season.
With the Rangers 1:41 away from being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kreider's game-tying goal gave them renewed life against the Washington Capitals on Friday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series at Madison Square Garden.
Goals have been hard to come by against Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby in this series, but Kreider's shot from outside the top of the left circle went past him while Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was making his way to the bench for an extra attacker. It pulled the Rangers into a 1-1 tie, and defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored 9:37 into overtime on New York's 43rd shot for a 2-1 victory.
The Rangers trail the best-of-7 series 3-2, with Game 6 at Verizon Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
New York was 101 seconds away from being shut out for the second time in three games before Kreider's season-saving goal.
"It was a little bit of a sense of relief [after I scored]," Kreider said. "It would have been nice if we got one a little bit earlier, but at the same time we're just happy to play a little more hockey."
Derek Stepan assisted on Kreider's goal, curling in the left circle before feeding his linemate for a one-timer that appeared to deflect off the left skate of Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik before beating a screened Holtby to the long side.
"It's a quick-up," Stepan said. "[Kreider] is able to make a nice play on the entry and then he just gets himself open. The way he shoots it, he can beat a lot of goalies from there. He was able to find the spot and put a good shot on net."
Holtby, who made 41 saves, said he never saw Kreider's shot.
"He got rid of it quickly and didn't give me any time to look around," Holtby said. "It just kind of went through."
Kreider became the first Rangers player other than Derick Brassard to score against Holtby since the first period of Game 2, covering 222:39 of playing time. Holtby allowed five goals in the first four games against the Rangers, who have scored two or fewer goals in eight of their 10 playoff games.
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 3
SOG: 26 | +/-: 1
"We continue to try and find ways, and we'll continue to look at some things that we can continue to do better," McDonagh said. "It's a good sign for us that we found a way to win this game under immense pressure."
Kreider, who leads the Rangers with 44 hits, also leads them in playoff goals (14) since making his NHL debut in Game 3 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators.
"We've been needing some people to step up and score big timely goals, and it's been tough to come by, for sure," Stepan said. "But we're still in this thing and it was a big moment there for [Kreider] to give us a chance in overtime."
Kreider had NHL-career-highs during the regular season with 21 goals, 25 assists and 46 points. He is two playoff goals shy of the five he scored in 2012 and 2014. The 6-foot-3, 226-pound left-handed shot has always taken great pride in playing a physical brand of hockey, something he brings every game.
"Obviously we don't really care who scores that goal as long as it gets scored," he said. "You've got to put your head down and just work harder. I think we were confident that it was going to break eventually; it broke pretty late.
"There's a lot of resolve, a lot of character in this room. It speaks to leadership with guys like [Martin] St. Louis and [Henrik] Lundqvist."