The Rangers have never lost a Game 7 on home ice. Madison Square Garden will host another exciting Game 7 this week after the Rangers struck early, and often enough to beat the Capitals 4-3 and even their best-of-seven series at three games apiece Sunday.
A wild finish saw New York nearly squander a three-goal lead but cross the finish line with a victory — barely. The team killed a delay of game penalty and averted a disastrous 6-on-4 goal as the Caps relentlessly tried to tie things up.
And though Washington outshot the Blue Shirts by a staggering 45-28 margin, New York somehow was able to stay ahead on the only scoreboard that counts.
It was clear from the opening puck-drop that the Rangers didn’t want to play all of Game 6 thinking about their season being a loss away from ending. So just 40 seconds into the game, Chris Kreider found nylon, from Jesper Fast and Kevin Hayes. The score swung the momentum in New York’s column early.
If the Rangers’ first goal was unexpected, their second goal was a total shock. After a face off win with just seconds remaining, Kreider (he has five in the playoffs now) took a rebound and flipped it past Braden Holtby with just three tenths of a second left to give New York a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.
The Capitals made it a game again not far into the second, as Jason Chimera scored on passes from Joel Ward and Evgeny Kuznetsov just seconds into the frame.
The Rangers added two goals in the third, from Rick Nash and later Dan Boyle, who fired a slap shot towards the back of the net to put New York ahead 4-1.
But Kuznetsov squeezed one past Henrik Lundqvist after a mistake in transition to slice the lead to 4-2 and a few minutes later Joel Ward added another, making for a one-goal game once again.
The Rangers and Capitals will have an extra day off, with Game 7 to be played Wednesday, time and television coverage to be announced.