Wednesday night's game three contest had no winner - until Thursday morning. It took more than 4 and a half hours of real time and 114:41 minutes of game time – but the New York Rangers won the marathon – outlasting a tough Washington Capitals team 2-1.
You can analyze this 100 ways – but in the end the Rangers simply would not let the Capitals score a second goal. Our defense was aggressive and organized – but the Capitals matched us shift for shift. In the end it came down to two very hot goaltenders. Henrik was simply stupendous, making 45 saves to preserve the 2-1 victory.
Captain Callahan got the Rangers on the board first at 6:41 of the second with the Rangers on the powerplay. Gaborik – who would end this game (much much later) delivered the puck to Michael Del Zotto (who had figured prominently in both Ranger goals in game two). MDZ rifled the puck on net – but when the red hot Holtby made the save - the rebound came directly to Callahan in front. The Ranger Captain, with lots of open net to shoot at, netted the puck and the Rangers had the first goal of the contest.
We had a lead to protect – and we did – for four minutes and twenty nine seconds. Then Carlson stick-handled from the left circle across the middle and the Ranger defense slashed at the puck with their sticks. The puck was dislodged from Carlson momentarily – but bounced right back to him. His shot beat Hank cleanly and we were tied at one.
And then - lots and lots of blocked shots and saves.
In the first overtime – a lot of fuss was made about Brian Boyle's rear end – which made an accidental save on a Mike Rupp shot at an open net. Rupp beat Holtby – but not the butt of Boyle – which blocked the shot. To be fair though – the goal might well have been called back because Boyle and his posterior were in the crease before the puck got there. The first OT ended with the teams still tied.
Five minutes in to the second overtime the Rangers - and Dave Pucks – got the scare of our lives. Alexander Ovechkin – the Ranger killer and the man who scored the game 2 game-winner, stole the puck and moved in alone on Henrik Lundqvist. The big Russian shot the puck from point-blank range... and..... The GOAL BUZZER SOUNDED! The siren blasted. The Capitals fans went crazy – jumping to their feet and screaming in victory.
Hold on there kids!
The referee is blowing his whistle and waving his arms. The puck is not in the net. Ovechkin hit the post. It hit the post! It hit the post! No goal! No goal! And the Rangers play on!
Ovechkin stood in front of the Ranger net – watching the replay on the overhead screen – until the feisty Prust pushed him away from Hank.
And the game went on with both sides showing tremendous poise, grit, and determination. Great defensive sequences interrupted by great chances – which were each turned away by masterful goaltending. The second overtime ended in a 1-1 tie. There was an amazing and exhausting 5th intermission. The Rangers would a play a third overtime for the first time since the 1970s (and yes – Dave Pucks – who was just a little Pucks back then – remembers that one too.)
And so it was in the third overtime when the fateful contest finally reached it's magic end. Brad Richards fired the puck wide from the left side and it caromed to Girardi – who played it back behind the net. It came directly back to Richards behind the net and he made a perfect pass in front to Gaborik in front of Holtby. The Washington Goaltender was in the process of dropping his leg pads to the ice – but Gabby with the lightning fast stick found the rapidly closing five hole. And so, at 14:41 of period 6, and at 12:15am on a frantic Thursday morning, Marion Gaborik, lit the lamp and scored his first playoff goal since game one of the Ottawa series, giving the exhausted Rangers a much needed 2-1 victory in our nation's capital.
We outshot the Caps 49 to 46. They outhit us 59 to 46 and I'm sure everyone is sore today.
Goals for Gabby and Cally. Assists for Gaborik (the star of the game), Del Zotto, Girardi, and Richards. The kid – Kreider – was minus 1 with no shots on the day but had 2 hits.
Ice times? Don't get me started. 53 minutes for McDonagh led the defense and Richards had 39 minutes on offense.
And it came down – once again – to the goaltenders. Holtby saved 47 shots for a .959 save percentage. An incredible night. But Hank, saving .978 was just a little bit better.
Historic game. And about time we broke two bad streaks - the Rangers losing streaks in OT and on the road against Washington. And so – we grab game three – gain back out home ice – and can rest until Saturday. Huge win. The Cup is now 10 wins away. And for the first time this series – the pressure is on Washington.