NEW YORK — Ryan McDonagh scored 9:37 into overtime and the New York Rangers kept their Stanley Cup hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Chris Kreider breathed life into the Presidents’ Trophy winners by scoring with 1:41 left in regulation to force the overtime.
The Capitals lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is Sunday night in Washington. Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves for the Rangers, who have won each of their past nine playoff games when facing elimination at Madison Square Garden dating to Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Braden Holtby made 41 saves for Washington, which was less than two minutes away from its first conference final since 1998 before New York rallied.
Curtis Glencross scored for the Capitals.
On the winner, Jesper Fast kept the puck in the Washington end and sent a pass to Derek Stepan in the left circle. Instead of shooting, Stepan hesitated and found McDonagh coming late down the middle. McDonagh’s shot flew into the net and set off a second loud celebration at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers were 1:41 from seeing their season end when Kreider tied it from the top of the left faceoff circle after taking a pass from Stepan and firing a shot to the far corner past Holtby. As Kreider swiped the air with a roundhouse, it set off a wild celebration that had the Garden shaking. The goal came seconds after Lundqvist left his net for a sixth skater.
Glencross broke through for Washington with 9:06 left in regulation, scoring on a breakaway after being sent in all alone by defenseman Matt Niskanen. Lundqvist actually stopped the breakaway attempt, but Glencross chipped the rebound over the prone netminder.
The goaltenders have been the stars of this series, and Holtby and Lundqvist put on another show in Game 5. Holtby set the tone early by stopping 14 shots in an opening 10-minute onslaught by the Rangers. He was at his best against Martin St. Louis, making three outstanding saves, including a post-to-post pad save early when Rick Nash set up the one-time NHL scoring champion for a slam dunk in the crease.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images