Ryan McDonagh scores in OT, Rangers still alive in Game 5 vs. Capitals

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Ryan McDonagh scores in OT, Rangers still alive in Game 5 vs. Capitals
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NEW YORK – The New York Rangers survived elimination in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal in dramatic fashion on Friday night

Ryan McDonagh's blast at 9:37 of overtime gave the Rangers the 2-1 win, and cut the Capitals' series lead to 3-2. Game 6 is on Sunday night in Washington. 

“I noticed my winger was changing. I just tried to join the play, maybe be in a spot where the puck would find me," said the captain. 

“We’re never out of it, not matter what happens in the game. Our group knows this.”

Jesper Fast stole the puck just outside the Rangers' offensive zone and carried it deep. He fed Derek Stepan, who passed to a trailing McDonagh for the blast that beat Washington goaltender Braden Holtby. 

Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves. Holtby had 41 for the Capitals.

"We worked so hard the last few games to create offense," said Lundqvist. "Holtby is playing at a level where it's really tough for us to socre. But we are still alive."

The game was scoreless through two periods before both teams broke through in the third.

Curtis Glencross, who had been scoreless in eight games during the postseason, scored on a breakaway against Henrik Lundqvist at 10:54 of the third period to make it 1-0 for Washington. 

The Capitals’ Tom Wilson started the play by stealing the puck from Kevin Klein of the Rangers in the Washington zone. Matt Niksenan collected it and sent a home-run pass to Glencross. He and Brooks Laich broke into the zone; Glencross fired on Lundqvist, who made the initial save, but then the Capitals’ forward tucked it home for the first lead of the night.

Tension grew in Madison Square Garden as the Rangers searched for the equalizer. It arrived as Lundqvist was skating to the New York bench for an extra attacker.

Derek Stepan curled around the Capitals’ zone, stopping short as Troy Brouwer defended him. He fed Chris Kreider for a quick-release one-timer that flew through the legs of defenseman Brooks Orpik and snuck past Holtby at 18:19.

It was his third of the playoffs, and 14th career goal in 51 playoff games.  

Holtby entered Game 5 with a 1.48 GAA and a .950 save percentage in the postseason, and gave up one goal or less in all of the Caps’ wins over the Rangers.

The first 40 minutes of the game were a collection of missed chances and stellar stops by Lundqvist and Holtby.

The first period saw the Rangers blow a 3-on-1 break, a failure that prompted the crowd to chant “SHOOT THE PUCK!”

Martin St. Louis was stopped on the doorstep by Holtby’s pad; moments later, a puck that trickled on goal off a Capitals player was turned aside.

Lundqvist had his own close call later in the first, as a puck bounced off of Ryan McDonagh, through Lundqvist’s legs, off his calf and out through the other side of the crease.

The second period featured Derick Brassard missing an open net, St. Louis getting robbed by Holtby’s glove and, on the other side of the ice, Joel Ward colliding with Lundqvist to negate what might have been a goal with 2:09 left. The ref waived it off for goalie interference, but no penalty was called.

Lundqvist said that the pressure is now on the Capitals. "I know for usre they don't want to come back here for another game," he said. 

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