NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Dubinsky‘s goal with 1:39 left snapped a tie, and the Rangers’ struggling offense woke up enough to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Sunday and get New York back in the first-round playoff series.
After the Rangers managed only one goal in two losses at Washington, Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal and Erik Christensen figured out young Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth to help New York cut the series deficit to 2-1.
Game 4 of the Eastern Conference matchup will be at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Henrik Lundqvist was sharp again, and made 24 saves for the win. New York got 35 shots through on Neuvirth after a combined 47 in the opening two games – 2-1 and 2-0 losses.
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, 1-4 in series in which they lead 2-0. The Rangers have erased only one such deficit to advance.
Dubinsky popped up a shot off Neuvirth, and the puck found its way in while the teams were playing 4-on-4. Washington had erased a 2-1 deficit with 5:12 remaining when Mike Knuble scored a power-play goal.
Showing the resiliency they have displayed all season, the Rangers shook off a disallowed goal at the end of the second period and a pair of blown one-goal leads to rescue their playoff hopes against the top-seeded Capitals.
Dubinsky thrust his arms in the air, and the towel-waving home crowd burst out in joy and relief when the Rangers got ahead of Washington to stay.
The building fell silent when Knuble tied it while New York top forward Marian Gaborik sat in the penalty box after being called for cross-checking. Gaborik has been at the center of the Rangers’ scoring woes, recording no goals and four assists in the past 12 games. He is pointless in the series.
Prospal gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead when he slammed in a rebound of defenseman Marc Staal‘s shot, a drive that struck Neuvirth high in the shoulder and caromed to Prospal near the right post at 8:01 of the third.
The Rangers thought they took their second lead in the final second of the second period when the puck got past Neuvirth inside the right post as the buzzer sounded and the green light above the net went on, signaling that time ran out.
While there was no dispute that the puck was in the net, the officials needed to go to video replay to see if the goal was scored in time. Replay officials determined that the clock struck 0.0 before the puck completely went over the line, and the teams left the ice immediately after the announcement of no goal.
That break helped the Capitals carry the momentum they gained moments earlier into the intermission, but the Rangers owned the third period.
Washington had been stymied by the Rangers’ defense just as the Capitals had shut down New York’s offense in two tight home wins. The Capitals finally broke through when Ovechkin got to a feed from Jason Arnott at the top of the crease and steered the puck in with 59.2 seconds left in the second.
Ovechkin has 22 goals in 31 NHL playoff games.
New York had grabbed its second lead of the series 5:30 into the second period when Christensen fired a shot from the bottom edge of the right circle over Neuvirth’s left shoulder and under the crossbar through a screen. It was New York’s second power-play goal in 35 chances, dating to the final nine games of the regular season.
Until then, the 23-year-old Neuvirth and the Capitals had held the Rangers to just one goal in the first 139 minutes of the series – a second-period score by defenseman Matt Gilroy in New York’s overtime loss in Game 1.
NOTES: The Rangers were 0 for 4 on the power play in the first two games of the series and 0 for 3 in Game 3 before Christensen scored. … It was Christensen’s first NHL playoff goal in 15 games. … The Capitals lost in regulation for the first time since acquiring Arnott from New Jersey (12-1-1). … Referee Chris Rooney sustained a leg injury in the second period and didn’t return. He was replaced by backup referee Frederick L’Ecuyer.