Magic at the Garden
With two minutes left, things were looking bleak. The Rangers were down 2-1, getting outplayed by Washington and I was losing hope. Washington’s defense was not allowing the Rangers any life, they were blocking shots, clogging up the neutral shot and the Rangers were throwing weak shots at the net which were easily stopped by 22 year old goaltender Braden Holtby. The commentators were talking about how solid the Caps were, talked about how they know how to finish off games and all signs looked like the Rangers were going back to Washington down 3-2 and facing elimination. The Rangers had other ideas.
Tortorella pulled Lundqvist with about 1:30 left in the game, and the Caps did a solid job of killing the man advantage. However, Joel Ward, with just under 30 second left hit Carl Haggelin in the face with a stick, a penalty that turned the game completely around. The Rangers had the 6-4 advantage, threw the puck on net, Callahan and Richards attacked the net and Brad Richards got it through with just under 7 second left. The Garden erupted.
Going into overtime, the Rangers clearly had the momentum, as well as a Power Play, as Ward took a double minor and it carried into to extra frame. The Rangers continued to pressure the Caps, and just under a minute into OT, Mark Staal found the net on a deflected shot. The Rangers sealed an improbable victory, and I sat stunned looking at my television.
A few weeks ago the Rangers ended up losing against Ottawa in Game 5 at home, and although they ended up winning Game 6 on the road and eventually Game 7, that is not a trend that they were trying to repeat. The Capitals are a better team than the Senators, they play stronger defense and have snipers that are just as dangerous as Ottawa. I really felt like tonight was almost a must win for New York, and up until there was 7 seconds left into the game, I was feeling the same way I do when I’m watching the end of a Jets game. However, the Rangers, as they have all season long, showed they have an extreme amount of heart.
When the Rangers won in 1994, they took out the Capitals in the Conference Semi-finals, and then went on to the Conference Finals and had an epic battle with the Devils. As every Ranger (and Devil) fan knows, the Rangers battled through and beat New Jersey in 7 to make it to the Cup. Well, the Rangers and Devils are both one win away each from a 1994 rematch, and for area hockey fans, nothing could be sweeter. Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Adam Graves and the rest of the ’94 showed the same character that this current team possesses.
I am trying to not get ahead of myself, but the Rangers really have something special going on, and this victory tonight is another game to build on. The Rangers need to go into Washington and take care of the Caps in Game 6, and I think they will. I’ve been telling you all for a while, this is the best show in town and it looks like we have a lot more fun ahead of us in the upcoming weeks!