CAPITALS at RANGERS
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Best-of-7 series is tied 3-3
The New York Rangers will try to complete a historic feat and in the process tie another NHL record Wednesday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.
No team in NHL history has ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 series two years in a row. The Rangers did it last year against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and are one win away from doing it against the Capitals this year.
New York won 4-3 in Game 6 at Verizon Center on Sunday, and 2-1 in overtime in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden this past Friday.
"We've done a great amount of work here these last two games, but now we've gotta back up those two wins," Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis said. "That's what we're looking to do."
The Rangers have won five consecutive Game 7s, one shy of the NHL record held by the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins. Detroit won six straight Game 7s from 1949-64 and the Bruins did it from 1983-94. The Rangers have won five in a row since 2012.
New York is also 13-3 in games when they face elimination since the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. By contrast, the Capitals have lost 10 of their past 13 games when they have the opportunity to close out a series, including three of four this year.
New York beat Washington 5-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2013 and 2-1 in Game 7 of the conference semifinals in 2012. Washington last beat the Rangers in a Game 7 in the 2009 conference quarterfinals, when they rallied to win the series after falling into a 3-1 hole.
"The past is the past, you don't think about it," said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose active record of five straight Game 7 wins is an NHL record. "You just go in there and you focus the same way you focused the game before. It's great memories to have when you win important games, but [Wednesday] is a new opportunity for the team here so you have to be in the moment. You can't think about last year and whatever. That doesn't really matter. You stay in the moment."
Washington's one win in a potential close-out game this year came in Game 7 against the New York Islanders in the first round. That was arguably the best game the Capitals have played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They limited the Islanders to 11 shots on goal in a 2-1 win.
"We've been through Game 7 already," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We know the feeling, the nerves and the excitement of winning, so we're looking to try and get that back."
There is no doubting the Capitals' confidence in their ability to do it. Captain Alex Ovechkin basically guaranteed the Capitals would win Game 7 shortly after losing Game 6, when Washington outshot New York 45-28 and had 96 total shot attempts.
Ovechkin hasn't backed down.
"I know the team, I know the effort, I know the character of this group," Ovechkin said Tuesday. "I think we all together know what [we are] capable of, what we can do. It's huge. We just go in there, concentrate. Three periods, might be four, might be five. Whatever it takes."
The Rangers are operating under the same type of belief, they just haven't outwardly expressed it in the way Ovechkin has. They have been asked repeatedly to respond or at least offer an opinion on what Ovechkin has been saying, but the Rangers have declined at every opportunity.
"My only focus is what I can do to be my best [Wednesday] night," Lundqvist said. "I can't think of anything about what opponents are saying. It doesn't really matter. All I am focusing on is being ready [Wednesday]."