|WSH Leads Series 3 - 2|
By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers scored the first goal of the game, but not the last one in overtime, and as a result they now trail their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series three-game-to-two heading back to Madison Square Garden for Sunday's 4:30 start in Game Six, facing playoff elimination.
Mike Ribeiro converted a rebound in front 9:24 into an exciting back-and-forth overtime period to lift the Washington Capitals over the Rangers 2-1 Friday night at the Verzion Center. Henrik Lundqvist---sensational with 33 saves---stopped Karl Alzner's slap shot, but as the puck lay in the crease, Ribeiro beat Rangers defenseman John Moore to the disc and slipped it into the cage for Washington's second overtime victory of this series.
Lundqvist stopped seven of eight shots in overtime, including an incredible left-pad save to rob a wide-open Mathieu Perrault at 2:18. The Rangers have now lost 10 of their last 12 playoff overtime games dating back to May 4, 2007.
Brian Boyle had a hand in both goals scored in the game's first 40 minutes, as the Rangers and Capitals reached the second intermission tied 1-1. Boyle opened the scoring just 53 seconds into the game to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, but his retaliatory slashing penalty on Mike Ribeiro at 7:33 of the second period led to Washington's game-tying goal on the power play eleven seconds later.
Boyle skated into the low slot to convert a Derick Brassard pass from behind the goal line to give the visitors the early lead they so coveted. The goal was Boyle's second of the series, while Brassard earned his team-high sixth point with his fifth assist.
The goal provided early momentum for the Rangers, but by the end of the period their shots advantage was only 10-8, and the Caps had made their mark physically. Jason Chimera's hit to the head of Ryane Clowe---earning him a boarding minor at 4:40---knocked Clowe out of the game; and Chimera's clean wipeout of Anton Stralman with seven minutes to play in the opening period forced the Swedish defenseman to limp off the ice, though Stralman did return to action a few minutes later.
Another theme of the opening period was the Rangers inability to increase their lead on the power play. The Rangers had the only two power play opportunities of the first period, and failed on both without forcing Holtby to break a sweat.
When finally given a chance to go on their own power play, Washington wasted no time cashing in to tie the game following Boyle's penalty 7:33 into the second period. Joel Ward scored off a one-timer from the slot after a pretty passing sequence with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, tying the score 1-1 at 7:44.
The Rangers were awarded back-to-back power plays before the period was over---at 14:53 and 17:08---but registered only three shots combined, failing to make the Capitals pay for their undisciplined play.
The third period started off on a bad note for the Rangers when Michael Del Zotto was called for an interference penalty, and the Capitals lethal power play went back to work. Alex Ovechkin had two prime chances to score during the man-advantage, but Lundqvist snuffed out both---the second time bursting across the crease to his right to rob Ovechkin's wide-open one-timer from a few feet out.
As the Capitals continued to surge in the third period---they were outshooting New York 12-1 at one point---they came within inches of taking the lead with 8:23 to play in regulation when John Carlson ripped a right-wing shot off the crossbar. Right before the buzzer sounded to send this game to overtime, Carlson had the puck on his stick and wound up for one final blast, but Mats Zuccarello dove in front of the shot for the clean block, and the third period ended tied 1-1 after Washington outshot New York 13-4 in the third period of play.
The Rangers certainly missed Clowe after he left the game with an undisclosed injury early in the first period. He had just returned to the lineup in Game Four on Wednesday after missing four games with a prior undisclosed injury, playing 12 solid and physical minutes in the Rangers 4-3 win that night.
Washington played without veteran winher Martin Erat, who suffered an upper body injury Wednesday night. He was replaced by rugged Tom Wilson---the Caps 2012 first round draft pick---who made his NHL debut.
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