NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Marc Staal #18 (Not Pictured) scores the winning goal in overtime against Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 7, 2012 in New York City. The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime 2-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
After going dry for two and a half games, the New York Rangers' power play delivered when it mattered most, giving them a 3-2 series lead and the opportunity to close out the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
Despite stacking up more than 30 shots (plus another 25 blocked by the Capitals' defense), the biggest issue was the big fat "0-3" on the power play section of the box score. Despite prime opportunities, including a chance to extend their lead following Anton Stralman's first-period goal, a brutal lack of cohesion characterized the Rangers' efforts. Unable to get good puck movement around the Washington zone and rarely taking advantage of the half boards, their efforts mostly consisted of moving the puck from behind the net to look for close-range redirection opportunities around the crease.
With the Ranger net already empty for an extra attacker, the six-on-four advantage allowed New York to overload around the net, eventually paying off in Brad Richards' game-tying goal with just six seconds left -- their first power play goal since Ryan Callahan's early second-period tally in game three.
The Ward double minor would also haunt Washington as regulation gave way to overtime. With one of their best penalty killers watching from the box, the Capitals attempted to clog shooting lanes, but the tactic backfired when Marc Staal's blast from the point redirected off the skate of Brooks Laich and into the net for the 3-2 OT win.
With the series returning to Washington for game six, the Rangers must look to keep their power play productive in the Verizon Center if they wish to use the momentum of this OT win to help them advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1994 -- and, appropriately, a potential rematch with the New Jersey Devils.