For the second straight spring the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals will battle in a Game 7, as the clubs clash Monday evening in a decisive contest at Verizon Center.
The sixth-seeded Rangers used a stellar performance from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to take Game 6 by a 1-0 score on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
However, New York will have to become the first road team to win a game in this series in order to take the Eastern Conference quarterfinal battle. The Rangers won last year's Game 7 against the Caps, using home-ice advantage to skate away with a 2-1 victory in the final contest of the conference semifinals.
In this year's series, Washington claimed Games 1 and 2 in D.C. before the Blueshirts posted a pair of 4-3 wins over the next two meetings at MSG. The third-seeded Caps then won a 2-1 overtime decision on Friday before Lundqvist anchored the Rangers to the Game 6 victory.
Washington is just 3-8 all-time in Game 7s, while the Rangers are 5-5.
Derick Brassard scored the game's lone goal and Lundqvist posted a 27-save shutout to help the Rangers stave off elimination on Sunday.
Lundqvist, making his 60th consecutive postseason start between the pipes, stopped 12 shots over the final 20 minutes to secure his seventh career playoff shutout.
"I feel like they always come a little harder in their home building, but we can build on this one," Lundqvist said. "From the get-go we did all the things we talked about...forechecked, played physical. It was fun."
Washington netminder Braden Holtby played admirably in defeat, stopping 28- of-29 shots, but the Capitals were unable to solve the reigning Vezina Trophy winner Lundqvist in falling for the third straight time at Madison Square Garden.
"We've been taking too many penalties here on the road," Washington forward Niklas Backstrom admitted. "That's something you can't do if you're going to win a road game."
New York finished 0-for-5 on the power play, but did not allow the Capitals to skate on the man advantage
The Rangers won Game 6 despite playing without defenseman Marc Staal and forwards Ryane Clowe and Darroll Powe. All three players are doubtful for Monday's Game 7.
Washington forward Martin Erat is also doubtful for Game 7 with an arm injury sustained in Game 4.
Lundqvist is 2-1 with a 1.34 GAA in three career Games 7s and Holtby is 1-1 with a 1.48 GAA.
Alex Ovechkin leads Washington with two goals and two assists in six career Game 7s, but his team is 2-4 in those outings.
Rangers forward Brad Richards, a former Conn Smythe winner with Tampa Bay in 2004, has one goal and three assists over four Game 7s and has never lost in this situation.
The Capitals were 15-8-1 as the host during the regular season, while New York was 10-12-2 as the guest.
The winner of Monday's Game 7 will face either Boston or Toronto in the second round. The Bruins are hosting the Maple Leafs in another decisive game on Monday.