Washington, DC – Mike Ribeiro's goal 9:24 into overtime gave the Washington Capitals the upper hand once more in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the New York Rangers, with the Southeast Division champs taking a 2-1 decision in a pivotal Game 5 clash from the Verizon Center.
The third-seeded Capitals returned home off back-to-back 4-3 losses in New York that evened the set, but will head back to Madison Square Garden on Sunday with a chance to advance thanks to a stout defensive effort headed by goaltender Braden Holtby.
Holtby surrendered a goal to Brian Boyle in the game's first minute, his lone blemish in a sharp 24-save performance. Joel Ward contributed a power-play tally for Washington, which topped the Rangers at the Verizon Center for the 10th time in the past 11 postseason meetings between the clubs.
"Obviously it's going to be their barn, their building, their people," Capitals head coach Adam Oates said of Sunday's Game 6. "It's going to be electric. We've got to handle the first 10 minutes of the game. Once we get into the game, we're okay."
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 33 saves for New York, 13 of which were registered during a scoreless third period in which Washington dictated play most of the way.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner later kept the game ongoing by stoning Mathieu Perreault on a breakaway 2:16 into the extra session, then got a piece of an Alex Ovechkin wrister on a Caps' rush not long afterward.
Washington kept up the pressure, however, with Mike Green causing a turnover in the New York zone and getting the puck to Karl Alzner for a long drive that deflected off teammate Troy Brouwer and straight to Ribeiro, who scored into an open right side to put the Capitals on the doorstep of a series win.
"We didn't have a forecheck, which means our [defense] faced a lot tonight," Rangers forward Brad Richards remarked. "[The Capitals] were coming hard and we didn't do enough to keep the puck in their end and take the pressure off."
Down 1-0 after one period, Washington bounced back with a strong second to knot the score. The Capitals controlled the action for much of the early stages of the session, which helped result in their first power-play opportunity of the night after Boyle was sent off for slashing Ribeiro at the 7:33 mark.
Washington drew even just 11 seconds later, when Ward knocked home Marcus Johansson's feed from the right slot following a Rangers' giveaway in their own end.
The Capitals continued to dominate play in the third, recording 13 of the first 14 shots of the period -- which didn't include a blast from defenseman John Carlson that clanked off the crossbar with 8:25 left. Lundqvist also came up with a big skate stop on Ovechkin near the end of a Washington power play less than four minutes into the frame.
"For our team, it did go downhill [after the first period]," Rangers head coach John Tortorella stated. "We had a couple chances in overtime, third period we didn't have much; that's the way it worked out."
New York carried the momentum from its wins in Games 3 and 4 into this one, grabbing a sudden 1-0 lead when Boyle scored just 53 seconds after the initial faceoff.
With Washington caught in a line change, the Rangers worked the puck into the opposing zone and it found its way to Derick Brassard, who slipped a pinpoint pass from behind the net right on Boyle's stick for a one-timer from in close.
The Rangers had chances to extend the margin, receiving a pair of power plays that the Caps killed off in the first 12 minutes, and Holtby kept it a one- goal game with an alert stick save on Carl Hagelin during a partial breakaway later in the period.
Rangers forward Ryane Clowe exited the game after being slammed into the boards by Washington's Jason Chimera 4:40 into the first period. Clowe had missed the first three matchups of the series with a suspected concussion before returning Wednesday ... The Rangers fell to 6-13 on the road in the playoffs since Tortorella took over in 2009, the worst mark in the NHL during that time frame ... New York went 0-for-4 on the power play and is just 2- of-21 with the man advantage for the series ... The Capitals have outscored New York 7-2 in the second period for the series ... With forward Martin Erat out with an arm injury sustained in Game 4, rookie Tom Wilson made his NHL debut for the Caps. The 19-year-old was Washington's first-round pick in the 2012 draft ... Defenseman Marc Staal (eye) and forward Darroll Powe (undisclosed) missed a second straight game for New York.