The New York Rangers came into their afternoon tilt with the Washington Capitals down 2-0 in the series and needing a win to stay alive. For the second time in the series the Rangers scored first, twice they held leads in Game 3 (only to cough them back up) and they had to deal with a possible momentum-shifting no-goal call as time expired in the second period that would've given them a goal lead entering the third. But their season-long resiliency shown through and Brandon Dubinsky's goal with 1:39 remaining kept their playoff hopes alive and erupted the Madison Square Garden crowd to give the Blueshirts a pivotal 3-2 victory.
The Rangers and Caps would play an even first period, with an 8-7 shots advantage for New York. The downside for the Rangers was that they desperately needed to find an early lead and build from it with the way this series had gone up to this point. New York would take two penalties and have two power plays of their own and managed to kill off both -- and generate no offense on one of their two 5-on-3 chances in the first.
The Rangers got on the board 5:30 into the second period when Erik Christensen ripped a bad-angle wrist shot past Michal Neuvirth on the power play. New York had an early man advantage chance but per the usual, couldn't do anything on it. The Capitals would take eight penalties in the game, the Rangers would have two 5-on-3 chances, yet they would only capitalize on this man advantage in the second period. The power play woes -- 1-for-7 nearly killed any chances of a Rangers win in this one.
Just when it looked like the Rangers would head into the second intermission with a lead, Alex Ovechkin re-directed a Jason Arnott pass past Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 23 saves in the game. With seconds remaining, though, Ruslan Fedotenko rushed the puck down the left side and centered it from the corner and the puck went in as time expired. However, official review revealed that the puck hadn't crossed the line before the clock reached zero seconds and would be forced to play for their playoff lives in the third period.
Like it has been all season, the third period was the Rangers' strongest -- and it had to be in this situation. Vinny Prospal scored eight minutes in the period off of a Marc Staal shot that rebounded out and it looked like the Blueshirts would be able to pull this one out as momentum shifted on their side. Marian Gaborik, who played a pretty good game, took a cross-checking penalty about six minutes later, though, and Mike Knuble knotted the game back up, this time at 2-2.
It appeared that this game would head to overtime, with Rangers' fans stomachs in their throats ... but then, Dubinsky took the puck from the left corner and made a strong power move to the front of the net and flicked the puck that deflected and sailed over Neuvirth to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead at 18:21 that would ultimately win the game for them.
Suffice to say the Rangers are back in this series. It was a game they had to win; a 3-0 series deficit would've been extremely difficult to overcome. It is only one game, though, and the Rangers need to continue to find ways to generate offense in Game 4, which will be played on Wednesday. John Tortorella and his troops will definitely be taking extra time to work on the power play in the coming days.