As chaos reigned around him, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist slammed his stick off the Rangers bench.
It was a moment that summed up a night — and maybe a season.
The Rangers are one game away from a premature and unsatisfying end to a season that began with Stanley Cup aspirations after Mike Ribeiro shoved a rebound goal past Lundqvist 9:24 into overtime to give the Capitals a 2-1 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Verizon Center.
Washington leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2. Game 6 is set for 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Madison Square Garden due to the Leafs beating the Bruins, 2-1, in Game 5 of that Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series last night.
That the Rangers were in overtime was a testament to Lundqvist. The reigning Vezina winner stopped 33-of-35 shots in a game where the Southeast Division champs out-shot the Rangers, 81-67.
While the Capitals had the better play for the majority of the game, the Rangers actually led 1-0 53 seconds into the game when Brian Boyle tapped a Derick Brassard feed under Braden Holtby (24 saves).
But the Rangers could not capitalize on the advantage or four power plays. The Rangers went 0-for-4 in four man-advantage opportunities in the first two periods.
Then Washington began to surge. Alex Ovechkin, Karl Alzner and John Carlson all fired shots Lundqvist stopped in the final 17 seconds of the first period.
Washington’s barrage intensified over the second and third periods, as the Capitals outshot the Rangers, 19-9. The disparity in shots does not account for the disproportion in possession and zone time. The Capitals initiated the play and the Rangers spent 40 minutes absorbing body blows.
The Capitals tied the game 7:34 into the second period on Joel Ward power play goal. Exactly 11 seconds after Boyle was called for slashing Ribeiro, Ward culminated a game of tic-tac-toe with Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom with his 11th career playoff goal.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.