(Photo: New York Rangers)
The last time the New York Rangers won a Game Seven in overtime, it was 1994. Stephane Matteau‘s goal lifted the Rangers over the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final, and they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
In 1994, the Rangers also took home the Cup.
There have since been several parallels between that historic season and the 2014-15 season. On Wednesday, the Rangers completed their comeback against the Washington Capitals with a 2-1 Game Seven overtime victory at Madison Square Garden. They now move on to the Eastern Conference Final, where they will face the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Derek Stepan put in the game-winner at 11:24. Stepan won the faceoff in the Capitals’ zone and passed it to Keith Yandle. Yandle got it to Dan Girardi, who shot the puck from the blue line right at Braden Holtby. The puck rebounded out to Stepan, who was perfectly positioned to one-time the shot and bury it. As Holtby lay in the net, defeated, the Rangers and Madison Square Garden celebrated.
— NHL (@NHL) May 14, 2015
Following the Capitals’ loss in Game Six, Alex Ovechkin made a guarantee: the Capitals would win the series. Ovechkin, looking to make good on his promise, put his team up 1-0 at 12:50 in the first period. The Rangers suffered a defensive breakdown, and Ovechkin was there to finish.
Rick Nash had an opportunity to tie the game at the end of the first with a 1-on-0 breakaway down the middle of the ice. He tried to go five-hole on Holtby, but Holtby read the play and stopped the shot to keep his team in the lead.
Kevin Hayes evened the score at 6:22 in the second period. His second goal of the postseason came on the power play; he tipped in a shot right in front of the net with an assist by J.T. Miller. Per the Rangers, Hayes became the first Rangers rookie to score in a Game Seven since Muzz Patrick in 1939.
This game was arguably the most physical of the series, and Ovechkin set the tone early. On the first play of the game, he hit Ryan McDonagh into the boards. The Capitals registered 26 hits during the game, while the Rangers had 32. Chris Kreider led all players with nine hits. Neither team was going down easily.
In the third period, Brooks Orpik laid out Dan Boyle, catching him in the head with an elbow, and Boyle was slow to get up. Boyle went straight into the locker room and did not return to the game. Orpik did not receive any sort of penalty and was booed whenever he touched the puck for the rest of the game. Boyle’s status remains unknown at this time.
The Rangers used their speed to their advantage and were effective in pushing the Capitals to the outside throughout the game. Though there were some defensive lapses, like the one resulting in Ovechkin’s goal, the Rangers were strong all-around in front of the home crowd.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
Next up is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who the Rangers struggled against during the regular season. The Lightning won all three match-ups and scored 15 goals. The Rangers will have home-ice advantage for the series and will host the Lightning on Saturday at 1pm for Game One.