NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault needed one word to describe captain Ryan McDonagh in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
"Outstanding," was his concise appraisal.
McDonagh, who had been playing big minutes alongside defense partner Dan Girardi throughout the series, turned in another stellar effort in leading his team to a 2-1 overtime victory.
"He played big minutes against a world-class player [in Alex Ovechkin], and other than the fact Ovechkin did score [in the first period], he played another tremendous game," Vigneault said.
McDonagh assisted on a power-play goal by rookie Kevin Hayes in the second period that pulled the Rangers into a 1-1 tie. He finished with five shots on goal, nine shot attempts, six blocked shots and three takeaways.
"You have to be smart, and that's something we talked about," McDonagh said. "You have to make sure shifts are short and you don't get overextended out there. We've been in situations like that before and we trust each other out there."
McDonagh, who finished with a team-high 29:02 of ice time, was double-shifted when Dan Boyle was forced to exit the game 9:26 into the third period after taking a hard hit from Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.
Hayes, who scored his second goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, said the Rangers' captain was the heart and soul of the team throughout the series. McDonagh had one goal, two points, 15 shots on goal and a plus-1 rating in the seven-game series. He logged more than 20 minutes of ice time in each of the seven games.
"I think Game 7 showed how big Ryan McDonagh is and how good a handle he has on this team," Hayes said. "I thought he did a fantastic job. No one quit in this locker room; I thought everyone did a great job, and Ryan was a big reason for that."