NEW YORK — Jason Chimera scored 12:36 into the second overtime and the Washington Capitals completed a stunning three-goal comeback to beat the Rangers 4-3 and push New York to the brink of elimination Wednesday night.
New York scored three times in the second period to take a 3-0 lead and seemed poised to head back to Washington all even in the series for Game 5 on Saturday. But now the top-seeded Capitals have a 3-1 lead and can advance to the second round with a win at home – the place in which they grabbed a 2-0 series lead.
Alexander Semin started Washington's rally, and Marcus Johansson scored twice in the third to make it 3-3.
The Rangers built their big lead on a goal by Artem Anisimov and back-to-back tallies just seven seconds apart by Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky. Henrik Lundqvist was the hard-luck loser after making 49 saves.
New York was the only NHL team this season to be perfect when leading after two periods (29-0), but none of that matters now.
Chimera took a shot from near the right circle that was blocked in front. Gaborik raced in and tried to clear the puck out of the crease but he swept it right onto Chimera's stick for a stuff shot that ended the game.
Lundqvist doubled over and stayed down on his knees as teammates skated slowly toward him. At the other end of the ice, the Capitals stormed off the bench and gathered in celebration with winning goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made 36 saves.
Washington now has the unexpected chance to close out the series in Game 5. The top-seeded Capitals were in this position last year – holding a 3-1 lead over eighth-seeded Montreal – but lost the final three games. Much of the Capitals' poor postseason history has been a topic of discussion that Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has tried to quell.
In five previous series in which they held a 2-0 lead, the Capitals have lost.
Just like in the third period, the Capitals recorded 13 shots in the first overtime and had the better scoring chances. Lundqvist was on his game and fought through what appeared to be leg discomfort after Alex Ovechkin's breakaway. The Rangers even killed the lone power play of the period after rookie Derek Stepan went off for a delay of game penalty when his clearing attempt went into the seats.
Heading into the third period, the desperate Capitals ditched their defensive-minded ways and ignited the high-flying offense they have long been known for and stormed back to tie it.
Semin started the comeback at 2:47 with a goal that stood up to a brief video replay. Rangers rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh gave the puck away to Semin in the right circle, and the Capitals forward fired a shot that got past Lundqvist's leg and slid to the goal line. Lundqvist swept it out, but couldn't cover it before Semin put it in again.
Johansson scored his first just 57 seconds later off a pass from the left wing boards from Brooks Laich to him at the right post for a redirection.
The pace settled down for a bit, and Madison Square Garden was nervously quiet as fans who had been bold and confident when the Rangers led 3-0 tried to voice some more support. When Sean Avery went off for slashing at 10:03, the crowd anxiously waited for the time to tick off.
New York killed the penalty, but barely as Johansson deflected defenseman John Carlson's shot from above the left circle past Lundqvist just 4 seconds after Avery left the box.
Washington gave the Rangers another chance on the power play with about eight minutes left, but like the five before it, New York failed to take advantage. The Rangers had another power play in the second OT when the Capitals were caught with too many men on the ice. New York went 0 for 7 on the power play and is 1 for 18 in the series.
After Anisimov made it 1-0 at 5:24 of the second, the Rangers took over in front of a loud and energetic crowd. Ruslan Fedotenko then made crisp passes to Gaborik at 13:40 and Dubinsky at 13:47 to put the Rangers seemingly comfortably ahead for the first time in the previously defensive-minded series.
Lundqvist was sharp until the Capitals beat him twice in 57 seconds to close the gap to 3-2. Semin scored an unassisted goal after a turnover by defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and Johansson made it a one-goal game at 3:44 off a feed from Brooks Laich.
The Rangers recorded only one goal in their opening two losses in Washington, but bounced back with six goals at home.
Boudreau incurred the wrath of insulted Rangers fans, who fired back after Washington's bench boss said after Game 3 that the Garden wasn't any louder than Washington's home rink, that its locker rooms and benches were "horrible," and that the reputation of the self-proclaimed World's Most Famous Arena was much better than the actual building.
Fans yelled disparaging remarks at Boudreau, chanted "BOOOOD-REAU!" and then yelled in unison, "Can you hear us?" when the Rangers took over in the second period.
NOTES: The Rangers' playoff record for fastest two goals is 6 seconds when Rod Gilbert scored both in the second period at Chicago on April 11, 1968. … Capitals RW Mike Knuble sat out after being injured in Game 3. He was replaced by Eric Fehr, who made his first appearance in the series. … New York's Brian Boyle took two penalties for goalie interference.