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Rangers force Game 6 with OT win against Capitals

by Brian Compton /

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers needed more than 58 minutes to solve Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby on Friday. It saved their season when they finally did, and captain Ryan McDonagh extended it.

McDonagh scored 9:37 into overtime, and the Rangers rallied for a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 with Game 6 at Verizon Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

McDonagh, who had one goal through the first nine games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, took a pass from Derek Stepan and beat Holtby with a wrist shot from between the circles.

Holtby made 41 saves for Washington and was on the verge of a shutout until Chris Kreider scored with 1:41 remaining in the third period to tie the game 1-1.

"I want to try and contribute in all fashions and continued to have a positive attitude all throughout the game," McDonagh said. "It can be tough at times, and it showed tonight when you're getting good looks like that. It's about finding a way, and I loved our attitude on the bench. Even those last couple of minutes there, I had a feeling that someone was going to find a way, and sure enough [Kreider] gives us a chance in overtime."

The Capitals are 3-9 when they have a chance to win a series since the 2010 playoffs.

"We played a pretty decent game," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "They took away the first six minutes of the game. They had a good push and on the power play they racked up some shots. After that, I thought we played a pretty solid game in a lot of areas. We just have to execute better."

Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves for the Rangers. He entered 11-3 with a 1.36 goals-against average, a .957 save percentage and two shutouts when the Rangers faced elimination since 2012.

New York is an NHL-record 9-0 when facing elimination at home since Game 4 of the second round in 2008.

"We're just trying to continue to play the right way," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think we've been playing some solid hockey at both ends of the rink against a very good team. Our starts have been good and we've been getting some good looks [and] not getting rewarded for a lot of our good plays. But at the end of the day, that's it, we're still breathing. We're going to go into Washington on Sunday and give it our best shot."

Curtis Glencross gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 10:54 of the third period on a breakaway. Moments after a terrific defensive play by Capitals forward Tom Wilson against Kevin Klein inside Washington's blue line, Matt Niskanen sent Glencross in alone. Lundqvist denied Glencross on a wrist shot, but Glencross backhanded the rebound over the goal line for his first point in nine games this postseason.

With the Rangers' season on the line, Kreider tied the game at 18:19 of the third period. While Lundqvist was skating to the bench for an extra attacker, Stepan sent a drop pass to Kreider, who solved Holtby from outside the left faceoff circle. It was Kreider's third goal of the playoffs.

"It was nice," Kreider said. "Obviously, we don't really care who scores that goal as long as it gets scored. I'm just happy to be able to play a little more hockey."

Holtby kept the game 0-0 five minutes into the first period with a save against Rangers forward Martin St. Louis. With the teams at even strength, New York forward Rick Nash turned around and sent a shot toward the net from the left wing that went to St. Louis, who appeared to have an easy tap-in. But Holtby stretched across the crease and managed to get his left skate on the shot.

"We were close," said Holtby, who has allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his past 10 games. "It would have been nice to close it out, but we know we played a game that we need to be better at. I thought we were a little bit fortunate to be in the situation that we were to be able to have a chance to close it out. In the end, if you keep doing that, luck is going to turn the other way.

"We tend to respond to adversity well. We know how to bounce back and prepare."

Stepan insisted that even as Holtby made save after save, the Rangers were not getting frustrated.

"Not tonight, for some reason," Stepan said. "Tonight we just stuck with it and we kept pushing. Maybe in previous games it kind of got to that mode, but tonight it was a good vibe on the bench and we had a good push."

After outshooting Washington 12-2 before nine minutes passed, New York held a 16-13 edge after the first period.

Rangers center Derick Brassard had an opportunity to score 3:10 into the second period. Tanner Glass put a wrist shot on net from the right circle that Holtby denied, but the rebound caromed out to Brassard, who appeared to have an open net, but Capitals defenseman Mike Green made a diving play to redirect Brassard's shot wide.

St. Louis then had a chance with 12:52 left in the second when Holtby made a glove save on a wrist shot from point-blank range.

Washington thought it scored with 2:09 left in the second when Niskanen took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom and let go a slap shot from the point that got past Lundqvist, but it was ruled the Rangers goaltender was interfered with by Capitals forward Joel Ward.

The Rangers outshot the Capitals 12-5 in the second period.

"It's definitely a challenge not to get frustrated, and I'm just a goalie," Lundqvist said. "Imagine the players working so hard to create the chances and really wanting to score and help the team here. The only thing you can do is encourage each other to keep working hard and stay the course here. We're playing well. If we would score a couple goals here, we would feel so good about our game right now. We still feel pretty good, we got the win, but it was a tough win. We needed all the minutes we got here tonight to tie it up and win it in overtime."

New York went 0-for-2 on the power play. Washington's penalty kill is 24-for-25 this postseason.

Dating to last season's Stanley Cup Final, each of the Rangers' past 12 playoff games has been decided by one goal. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, New York's streak of one-goal games in the playoffs is the longest in the NHL's modern era. In the playoffs, 15 of the Rangers' past 16 games, 17 of their past 19, and 18 of their past 22 have been decided by one goal.


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