By Brian Monzo
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Being a sports fan means you sometimes live with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
Then there are those times when two minutes changes everything. The Rangers were just over six seconds away from finding themselves down 3-2 heading to Washington, similar to the situation they put themselves in against Ottawa. Things looked bleak.
Then the beauty of sport showed its face. Given a gift penalty thanks to the high stick of Joel Ward, the Rangers, along with the extra attacker from pulling Henrik Lundqvist, took it to the short-handed Capitals. With just over six seconds to go, Brad Richards would smack the puck past Braden Holtby and John Carlson to bring the game to overtime.
Ward was assessed a double minor, and the second part of his penalty would start overtime.
John Mitchell would win a faceoff to Marc Staal. Shot taken, shot scored. Rangers win. The dramatics were out.
I was sitting here at WFAN thinking about what I would write if they down 3-2, anticipating that was going to be the case. But sports never fails to surprise you. No words can describe how things panned out.
The Rangers now are in the driver’s seat. They have had two epic wins now in the series. This, topped with their triple-overtime win last week, have made this a remarkable series for the league.
Most importantly for the Rangers, they find themselves one win away from going to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky were on the team. It’s always been said the elimination game is the hardest game to win. That could not be more true, as the Senators had two chances of eliminating the Rangers, and couldn’t. The Rangers are now in the same spot.
The way this series has gone, it’s only logical that the Capitals win game six in Washington and it comes back here to New York for a seventh game. For the Rangers, however, it may be critical to get it done in six.
The West is set. It will be the Kings and Coyotes battling for the West. New Jersey is one game from eliminating Philadelphia in the East, and chances are, since the Flyers are without Claude Giroux because of his suspension, the Devils will take the Flyers out tonight.
The Rangers have played some of the most exhausting games in the playoffs, and another seven-game series, while highly entertaining, could be damaging.
Regardless, it’s tough to take away anything bad from last night.
Lundqvist continues to shine. Carl Hagelin finally had a great game and John Mitchell won four important faceoffs. Richards has earned basically every cent he got in his long-term contract last summer.
For the team and their fans, Tuesday will be a good day — but it won’t last for long. On Wednesday night, the Rangers will be playing a team looking to elude elimination. Not an easy task. Safe to say, they will be up for the challenge. Either way, my guess is it will be dramatic.
My playoff beard is getting long. Good times.
Follow me on Twitter: @BMonzoWFAN
Can you believe what you just saw?! Rangers fans, gloat away in the comments below…