The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals closed out a fantastic Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Wednesday night in New York and, after six intense prior contests, it was a finale that definitely lived up to the hype.
Washington dominated most of the nail-biting extra frame, but Rangers forward Derek Stepan managed to pot the game-winner and series-clincher with just over eight and a half minutes left in overtime, turning Madison Square Garden into a madhouse as the Rangers and their faithful fans celebrated wildly. Stepan’s goal – buried off a rebound from Capitals goalie Braden Holtby – was a product of a set play run by the Rangers off an offensive zone face-off.
Hockey fans have come to expect nothing less than an epic series when the Caps and Rangers meet in the playoffs. The two teams have faced each other in four of the last five postseasons, with three of those series needing all seven games. Unfortunately for Washington, they’re now 0-for-3 in those decisive final games.
As for the Rangers, they’ll be moving on to the Eastern Conference Final to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. That series begins Saturday afternoon in New York.