New York Rangers top Washington Capitals to keep season alive

Ryan McDonagh lifts the New York Rangers with goal in overtime against the Washington Capitals, 2-1

Less than 2 minutes away from seeing their franchise record-setting season come to end, the New York Rangers finally found a way to beat Braden Holtby and keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive.

Chris Kreider tied it with 1:41 left in regulation and Ryan McDonagh won it 9:37 into overtime as the Rangers breathed life back into their Presidents' Trophy-winning season with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

"We are still alive," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said after a 28-save performance. "Being in their shoes, we've been there. Going home now there is a lot of pressure for them. I know for sure they don't want to come back here for another game. So we'll try to use that to our advantage."

The Capitals lead the series, 3-2. Game 6 is Sunday night in Washington, and there is bound to be pressure on Washington. Since 1985, it has lost nine series in which it led either 2-0 or 3-1. That includes a first-round loss to the Rangers in 2013 in which they led 2-0 and 3-2.

"Of course you want to close out the series," said Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin, who is still looking to reach his first conference final. "You have to forget about it and move forward."

The Rangers have won each of their last nine playoff games when facing elimination at Madison Square Garden, dating to Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinal round against Pittsburgh.

Holtby made 41 saves for Washington, and Curtis Glencross scored.

On the winner, Jesper Fast kept the puck in the Washington end and sent a pass to Derek Stepan in the left circle. Instead of shooting, Stepan hesitated and found McDonagh coming late down the middle. His shot flew into the net and set off a second loud celebration at Madison Square Garden.

"It was passed to Stepan and it looked like he was going to shoot it," Holtby said. "I lost him a bit with bodies in front. I saw that he dropped it back and don't know where it went. I heard it hit a stick and then that was it."

McDonagh said all he was trying to do was hit the net.

"It's a good sign for us that we found a way to win this game under immense pressure," McDonagh said.

The Rangers were 1:41 from seeing their season end when Kreider tied it from the top of the left faceoff circle. He took a pass from Stepan and fired a shot quickly to the far corner that Holtby never saw.

As Kreider swiped the air with a roundhouse, it set off a wild celebration that had the Garden shaking.

The goal came seconds after Lundqvist left his net for a sixth skater.

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