Washington is one win away from conference finals
Facing elimination for the second time in this Stanley Cup postseason, the Capitals were once again up to the challenge.
Star winger Alex Ovechkin, held without a shot two days earlier, scored a power-play goal 88 seconds into the game and Jason Chimera later tapped home a feed from teammate Nicklas Backstrom. That was all the scoring Washington would need in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Verizon Center in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
That means the two teams will play Game 7 at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York with the winner advancing to the conference finals against the New Jersey Devils. It will be the second consecutive Game 7 for both the Rangers and the Caps. New York beat Ottawa in the first round. Washington won on the road in Game 7 against Boston to keep its season alive.
Rookie goalie Braden Holtby continued his strong postseason play. Making just his 13th career playoff start, Holtby finished with 30 saves on 31 shots. Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist allowed two goals on 23 shots at the other end.
Washington took the lead just 1:28 into the game after Chimera drew a hooking call on Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman. Defensemen Mike Green and Dennis Wideman played a game of catch near the point before working the puck to Backstrom on the right wall. He found Ovechkin in the slot with no one around him and fired a shot high and to the glove side of Lundqvist for the 1-0 lead.
It was Ovechkin's fifth tally of this playoffs and his 30th career postseason goal, tying him for the all-time team record with Peter Bondra. The Caps had eight of the game's first 11 shots and continuously buzzed Lundqvist's net. Ovechkin even hit the crossbar with a close-in shot later in the first.
Washington extended the lead at 10:59 of the second period. Strong work along the boards by Alexander Semin led to a cross-ice feed to defenseman John Carlson. He found Backstrom down low to the right of Lundqvist and his tipped pass was slammed home by Chimera. That made it 2-0 -- only the third time all postseason the Caps led a game by two goals. Prior to that, they had held a two-goal advantage for just 4:57 total in a little over 12 games. That lead carried into the third period, which was also the first time Washington led by two at any intermission.
The Rangers' lone goal was scored by Marian Gaborik with 51 seconds left in the game.