The New York Rangers nearly let another one-goal lead slip away in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, but a late goal by Brandon Dubinsky and a last defensive push gave the Rangers a win, and now only a 2-1 deficit in the series, as they beat the Washington Capitals 3-2.
It was fairly pedestrian early on, but the Rangers started to turn things up and get physical with Washington. The line of Sean Avery, Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust in particular were able to lay the body on every Capital they could. New York out-hit the Capitals 21-16 in the opening period. A quirky thing happened midway into the period when Avery broke his own stick before a faceoff by simply leaning on it. It was one of the strangest things I've ever seen.
A long delay occurred early in the period when referee Chris Rooney was hurt on the ice and had to go off at 3:44 after suffering an injury. A lengthy delay occurred before back-up stand-by Frederick L'Ecuyer prepared to replace him. It was the first time a referee has ever been cheered at Madison Square Garden, for sure. Another case of some really strange things happening at this one.
John Carlson went off for cross-checking at 4:41 of the second after the delay. The Rangers, who did not start the power play with Marian Gaborik - who had struggled earlier - set it up for Erik Christensen to take a lightning-fast wrister from a seemingly impossible angle, almost from the goal line it looked. It was Christensen's first of the series and the Rangers' second at 5:30.
The Capitals made the Rangers pay. Ironically, it started with Alexander Ovechkin being cross-checked out of the zone by a Ranger. The Capitals were able to move in, and set-up for a Jason Arnott shot that was tipped in by the man himself. Had Ovechkin not been pushed, the play would have likely been offside. It was Ovechkin's second goal of the series, and has a point-a-game, as does Arnott, to tie the game at 19:00.
At the end of the period, there was intrigue. The puck was thrown in front by Ruslan Fedotenko, ricocheted off a Capital in front, and was pushed in, but it was at the buzzer. There was a review needed, and a lengthy one, extending this period even further. The call in the war room determined that the puck did not fully cross the goal line in time, keeping the game tied at 1-1 after two periods.
At 8:01, the Rangers retook the lead. The Rangers set up Marc Staal for a shot from the point. Neuvirth made the initial stop, but in a rare instance of bad rebound control in this series, let up an easy tap-in for Vinny Prospal. It was Prospal's first of the post-season to make it 2-1. Immediately afterwards, the Rangers had a chance to make it 3-1 with a power play off a trip from Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals got a very large penalty kill and kept it a one-goal game.
With 6:22 left, the Capitals had a great chance to tie the game. After seven power plays for the Rangers, the Capitals finally got one back, with Marian Gaborik heading to the box for a cross-check at 13:38. A great cross-ice pass from Mike Green found Nicklas Backstrom, who ripped a one-time shot on goal. Lundqvist made the initial save, but the rebound landed right on the stick of Mike Knuble, who put it in and tied the game at two.
Late in the third, a man many felt the Rangers needed to step up to win, did so. Brandon Dubinsky took the puck out of the corner and to the side of the net, forced the puck off of Neuvirth's stick, and it popped up in the air and went in. An unbelievable, "only-in-the-playoffs" type goal was Dubinsky's first of the series, and sixth career playoff goal at 18:21. The Capitals couldn't get anything done with Neuvirth pulled late, and the Rangers have life in this series.