For the Rangers, it was a scene that has played out too many times in recent memory.
Alexander Ovechkin had his arm outstretched, his index finger raised skyward as a triumphant scream escaped from his lips to fill a silent Garden.
“First I saw it, then I didn’t see it and then I saw it. It was a hard shot; it was a good shot,” Henrik Lundqvist said of Ovechkin’s power play goal with 7:27 remaining that decided Game 2, 3-2, Monday night at the Garden.
The Rangers and Capitals are deadlocked 1-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinals series. The venue shifts to Washington’s Verizon Center for Game 3 Wednesday night.
“They [were] more desperate than they were [in Game 1],” Ryan Callahan said.
Callahan and Brad Richards scored both of the Rangers’ goals. Lundqvist made 22 saves.
“All year we responded after losses and this is no different. It’s a tough place to play in Washington,” Callahan said. “They usually come out strong there. We’re going to have to be ready.”
That would mean not taking consecutive penalties in the third period as the Rangers did last night. They killed a two-minute minor to Brian Boyle for holding the stick but Ovechkin’s game-winner came four seconds after Richards was penalized for holding John Carlson.
“You can’t take four minutes in penalties,” John Tortorella said. “You’re not going to win a hockey game like that.”
The Rangers never led in Game 2. Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera scored in a 4:54 span of the first period to give the Caps a 2-0 lead.
Knuble tapped in a Joel Ward feed to open the scoring 12:20 into the match. Knuble’s second goal of the playoffs concluded a play that began with a Stu Bickel defensive-zone turnover that led to Knuble’s 3-on-2 rush with Ward and Keith Aucoin.
Chimera’s goal at 17:14 increased the Caps’ lead to 2-0. The play began with Braden Holtby stoning Chris Kreider on a breakaway after the Rangers killed a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Washington counterattacked and Chimera was credited with the goal after it was kicked into net by Ryan McDonagh.
“It’s playoffs. A couple things like that hurt you,” Marc Staal said. “Things like that happen in games. We have to work hard and get on them for those bounces.”
Richards halved the deficit to 2-1 with a redirection at 19:17 of the first. Richards, Marian Gaborik and Michael Del Zotto took advantage of an unconscionable line change by Brooks Laich by rushing towards the Eighth Avenue goal and playing a private game of tic-tac-toe with the puck before the center scored his third goal in four games.
Callahan tied the game 2-2 by deflecting deflected Michael Del Zotto’s point shot 6:58 into the third. The Rangers had some hard luck — Del Zotto hit two posts in the third — but they left feeling as if they gave the Capitals life.
“We let up a little in the second period. They started to win some battles in the second and started to take the momentum a little bit,” Callahan said. “I think we need to raise our level.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.