(Photo: NHL)

Chris Kreider was the last player on the ice at the end of warmups.  He sent a long shot down the ice into the Washington Capitals‘ empty net and, on that note, went into the locker room.

Thirty-eight seconds into the game, he found the back of the net again. This time, it counted.

The New York Rangers defeated the Capitals, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon to even the series at one game apiece.  Kreider’s goal came off a rebound at the front of the net, following a shot by Jesper Fast down the middle.  After going up 1-0 almost immediately, the Rangers held the lead for the rest of the game.

Coming into Game Two, the Capitals’ penalty kill had been a perfect 17-for-17.  They killed the Rangers’ first power play of the afternoon but were unable to close out on the second.  Dan Boyle was able to keep a rolling puck in the zone, right at the blue line, and sent a powerful slap shot toward the net and past Braden Holtby.  It was the Rangers’ first power play goal of the series and their fourth of the playoffs, and their lead became 2-0 with just over four minutes to play in the first period.

Henrik Lundqvist was impressive in net and stopped 30 of 32 shots on the day.  He made a sprawling windmill save on Evgeny Kuznetsov early in the second, prompting chants of “HEN-RIK! HEN-RIK!” throughout Madison Square Garden.  But Kuznetsov was able to get one past Lundqvist at 13:59 in the second; he slipped past Boyle and buried a rebound off Lundqvist’s pads to cut the Rangers’ lead in half and make the score 2-1.

The Rangers continued to pressure the Capitals in their offensive zone and were effective on the forecheck. Kreider’s strong play throughout the game led to a handful of breakaway scoring chances and some key hits as the Rangers held on to their one-goal lead.

Early in the third, Derick Brassard went to the box, putting the Rangers on the penalty kill.  They killed it off efficiently, and Rick Nash sent the puck up the ice to Martin St. Louis.  St. Louis found Brassard, who had sped out of the box and up the ice, for an open shot just outside the crease.  The puck rolled between Holtby’s pads and somehow found its way across the line.  With 13:53 left to play, the Rangers took a 3-1 lead.

The two-goal lead was short-lived.  At 10:29, Alex Ovechkin struck again. He muscled his way through Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi and, shooting from his knees, put the puck in the upper left corner of the net.  Just like his goal in Game One, the puck was in-and-out in the blink of an eye.  At 3-2, it was anyone’s game.

The final 9:31 was a battle to maintain the lead, but the Rangers held on–no last-second goals this time around.  The two teams now travel to Washington for Games Three and Four, beginning on Monday night.

THREE STARS OF THE GAME:

3. Ovechkin

2. Lundqvist

1. Kreider


 

LOOKING AHEAD/OF NOTE:

Marc Staal and Keith Yandle were the only two Rangers not to register a shot on goal during the game.

-The Rangers have recalled forward Ryan Bourque from the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) due to Mats Zuccarello‘s injury.  Bourque participated in warmups but was a healthy scratch.


NEXT GAME:

Series tied at 1-1.  The next game is Monday, May 4, at 7:30pm on NBCSN.

 

Stephanie is currently a student at Roger Williams University and is working toward a BFA in Creative Writing and Film. She is hoping to pursue a master's degree in Sports Journalism after graduating. Stephanie is a former basketball player and now enjoys writing from the sidelines (though she wouldn't be opposed to watching from a press box). She quite literally turned into a full-fledged hockey fan overnight, and she is the lone Rangers/Blackhawks fan in a family of hardcore Bruins fans. During the offseason, she enjoys writing, film, traveling, and theatre. Twitter: @stephanielynn_

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