Washington, DC – The home team had won every game in this series, except for the last one.
Backed by Henrik Lundqvist's second straight shutout and an offense that finally came alive on the road, the New York Rangers took a 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Verizon Center.
The sixth-seeded Rangers had dropped all three games in Washington, scoring just two goals there coming into Monday's contest. New York, though, got goals from Arron Asham, Michael Del Zotto, Taylor Pyatt, Ryan Callahan and Mats Zuccarello to give the team the series victory.
"I think this was our best game of the series," said New York head coach John Tortorella. "Henrik was really good early to give us a chance and then I thought we played really well the rest of the way in front of him, right on through our lineup."
Lundqvist turned aside 35 shots in this game after stopping all 27 shots in Sunday's Game 6 to force the deciding contest.
It was the second straight year that the Rangers and Capitals had played a Game 7, with the Rangers taking a 2-1 win at home in last year's semifinal matchup.
New York will travel to face Boston in the semifinals as the Bruins rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third period then won in overtime on Monday to take their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games. Game 1 is set for Thursday night in Boston.
Braden Holtby was tagged with all five goals on 27 shots for the third-seeded Capitals, who were in the playoffs for a sixth straight season, but have bowed out after one series in three of those appearances and haven't made it out of the semifinals during that run.
"This is tough to explain," said Washington head coach Adam Oates. "It's funny how over the years a seventh game turns into some kind of blowout. I wish I had an answer for that. We pushed really hard in the first period and Lundqvist made some great saves, they got a lucky one and every bounce seemed to go their way after that."
Washington had taken Games 1, 2, and 5 at home, with Games 2 and 5 being decided in overtime, while the Rangers took a pair of 4-3 wins at Madison Square Garden in Games 3 and 4 before the 1-0 win in Game 6.
Washington was controlling play in the latter half of the first period and was peppering Lundqvist, who made 13 saves in the frame, but it was the Rangers who walked away with a 1-0 lead.
Skating the other way after the Caps had a chance in the Rangers end, Chris Kreider gained the zone along the right wing and left a drop pass for Asham, who blasted a slap shot through a Washington defender and past Holtby for a 1-0 lead with 6:41 to play in the period.
Lundqvist made the lead hold up by stopping a Jay Beagle shot from the right wing and swallowing the rebound with Mathieu Perreault in front inside of two minutes to play.
The Caps skated the final 1:18 of the first on the power play and began the second with the man advantage, but were unable to capitalize.
The Rangers made it a 2-0 game at 3:24 on Pyatt's first of the playoffs. Derek Dorsett had hit the post on a shot from the left circle, but play continued in the Washington end. Steve Eminger blasted a shot on net from the right point that Dorsett tipped. Holtby made the stop, but Pyatt was at the right side to slam home the rebound.
Just over two minutes later, it was a 3-0 contest as Del Zotto's shot from the left point hit off the skate of Troy Brouwer and made it between the pads of Holtby.
Only 13 seconds came off the third period clock before the Rangers to made it a four goal game. Callahan stole a soft pass from John Erskine in the neutral zone and skated down the right wing before turning his back to the goal and lifting in a backhand.
Zuccarello's goal just over six minutes later put the cap on the rout and Lundqvist finished off his eighth career playoff shutout with nine saves in the final frame.
New York improved to 6-5 in Game 7s, while the Capitals fell to 3-9 ... Washington forward Alex Ovechkin, who led the NHL in goals during the regular season with 32, scored just once in the series, in Game 1, and finished the series with two points ... New York's Derick Brassard had two assists in the game and led all skaters in the series with 11 points (2G, 9A) ... Rangers forward Brad Richards is 5-0 in Game 7s in his career ... The Rangers were without defenseman Marc Staal and forwards Ryane Clowe and Darroll Powe, while Washington forward Martin Erat missed the game with an arm injury sustained in Game 4 ... This was the eighth playoff matchup between these two clubs, with each squad winning four times.