NEW YORK – Alex Ovechkins power-play goal with 7:27 remaining snapped a tie and gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers to square the Eastern Conference semifinal series 1-1 on Monday night.
Just under 6 minutes after Ryan Callahan got the Rangers even with a power-play goal, Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead for good after they squandered a 2-0 lead.
Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera scored first-period goals for the Capitals, who will be host to the next two games of the series. The Capitals have earned four of their five wins in this postseason on the road.
Brad Richards had a goal and assist, and defenseman Michael Del Zotto had two assists for the top-seeded Rangers, who got forward Brian Boyle back from a three-game injury absence but couldnt turn it into a commanding lead in the series.
Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed two goals or fewer in six of the previous eight games and four straight, made 22 saves for the Rangers.
New York killed a penalty against Boyle moments after Callahans tying goal at 6:58, but Ovechkin struck off a clean faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom during another power play. With Richards in the penalty box for holding, Ovechkin fired a shot from inside the blue line past Lundqvist to make it 3-2.
After a close-to-the-vest opener, the offenses busted out in the first period – nearly matching the goal and shot totals from the Rangers Game 1 victory. The teams combined for four goals and 32 shots, only 14 by New York, in the Rangers 3-1 victory.
The Capitals took their first lead of the series 12:20 in when Washington took advantage of a Rangers turnover in the offensive zone. Stu Bickels pass was intercepted by Joel Ward at the blue line and he raced with the puck up ice. He sent a pass to the middle of the New York zone to Keith Aucoin, who quickly returned it to Ward. Ward moved the puck to his right to Knuble, who scored his second of the playoffs into the right side of the net.
A bigger mistake directly led to Washingtons second goal 4:54 later. Shortly after Rangers rookie sensation Chris Kreider was stopped on a breakaway attempt when he left the penalty box, Washington doubled its lead.
Lundqvist went behind his net to play the puck, but gave it up when pressured by Chimera. Chimera pushed the puck in front to Matt Hendricks, who tried to score into the vacated net with his back turned to it.
Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman dove in the crease to try to block the shot, and was hit in the mouth with a stick. The puck trickled to the outside of the right post, but was banked in by Chimera off the skate of New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh to make it 2-0.