The Rangers Sent MSG Into A Frenzy With A Game 7 Overtime-Winner Over The Capitals
The New York Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last night in stunning fashion while also making NHL history. In perhaps the most exciting game of the NHL playoffs so far, the Rangers became the first team in NHL history to come back from a three-game deficit in the playoffs and win the series—twice. In back-to-back years.
Each game of the series between the Rangers and the Washington Capitals was decided by one goal, so it was only fitting that the final game came down to a thrilling overtime battle between the two teams. Before Game 7, Capitals Captain and NHL superstar Alex Ovechkin guaranteed a win over the Rangers. Ovechkin set out to make good on his guarantee all on his own with a first period goal over Ranger’s goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The Capitals set the tone early on until Kevin Hayes scored for the Rangers in the second period during the power play. The game stay knotted at 1-1 going into overtime when a six-second sequence sent the sell-out crowd at Madison Square Garden into a frenzy. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi launched a shot out of the Capitals’ zone off a face-off toward Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby knocked the shot away, skidding the puck directly toward Derek Stepan. Stepan shot the puck past a diving Holtby, sending the New York Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row.
“You know, we just seem to have a group here that just keeps their wits about them, and you compete,” Stepan said after the game. “We said from Game 5 – let’s just take it one period at a time, and you never know what can happen.”
The Rangers have been known for torturing their fans with tight games. Their last 14 playoff games have been decided by one goal, an NHL record. The close score, however, doesn’t seem to bother goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who saved all eight shots he faced in overtime.
“You have to believe in the group, and how we play, and that someone in this room is going to be the hero,” said fan-favorite Lundqvist. “You want to have that feeling. You don’t want to sit here and be nervous. It’s a tough game. You need the bounces. If you do a lot of good things and believe in your group here, good things will happen.”
The win did come at a cost. Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle was removed from the game during the third period after getting a crushing hit from Capitals veteran Brooks Orpik. Boyle struggled to return to his feet before the head athletic trainer helped him off of the ice and into the locker room. His status for the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals is unknown.
The Rangers will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in New York City this weekend for the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in six games and look to ride the (I refuse to write “lightning”) momentum to their first Stanley Cup Championship since the 2003-2004 season.
A familiar face will be watching from the bench, as former Rangers captain and Tampa Bay’s fifth-leading scorer Ryan Callahan has been sidelined indefinitely after an emergency appendectomy. Callahan was with the Rangers last season, but he was traded before the playoffs.
The Rangers continue their quest for their fifth Stanley Cup on Saturday, May 16th. You can watch the excitement of last night’s win below.