There are few things in sports that are more frantic than a Game 7 playoff hockey game that goes to overtime. A season can end in, literally, the blink of an eye and that’s exactly what happened to the Capitals Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden as Derek Stepan became a New York hero with a goal at approximately 10:50 p.m.. The Rangers won the game, 2-1, and the series, 4-3. They will face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Final Saturday at MSG at 1 p.m..
It didn’t look good for the Rangers early in the extra session as the Caps put relentless pressure on Henrik Lundqvist, getting four shots on goal in the first four minutes and eight shots to the Rangers’ three in the first 10 minutes. But New York was resilient throughout, biding their time until Stepan sent the MSG crowd into a frenzy.
In the early going of Game 7, it actually had the feel of a game in which the Rangers could be shutout. But the Blueshirts took advantage of a power play in the second period as Ryan Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes connected on a bang-bang-bang type of goal in which Braden Holtby did not have a hope on Hayes’ lamp-lighter.
The tying goal gave way to a frantic pace, with both teams hustling up and down the ice. Both teams appeared fatigued as the second period came to a close, however, the wear of a brutal seven game series showing.
The Capitals had several strong looks in the first period and broke through to grab a 1-0 lead at the 12:50 mark. Originating from a faceoff win, Alexander Ovechkin scored by beating McDonagh to the puck and subsequently beating Lundqvist. Marcus Johansson had the assist with a beautiful backhand pass that led Ovechkin perfectly.
In the third period, the Rangers were dealt a harsh blow when Brooks Orpik leveled Dan Boyle with his shoulder taking Boyle off his skates, 10 minutes into third period and Boyle had to leave the ice and head to the dressing room with what was presumed to be concussion-like symptoms.