(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers pulled off a dramatic comeback on home ice to extend their season. Down 3-2 in the best-of-seven set, they'll try to stay alive again on Sunday when they visit the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Capitals have pushed the reigning Eastern Conference champions to the brink of elimination and came close to finishing off the Rangers in the Big Apple on Friday.
Washington held a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 at Madison Square Garden and grabbed a 1-0 advantage with 9:06 left in the third period. The Rangers, however, rallied for a 2-1 overtime victory thanks to goals from Chris Kreider and captain Ryan McDonagh.
Kreider delivered the tying goal with 1:41 remaining in regulation. He chipped the puck into the zone down the left wing and Derek Stepan caught up to it. Turning around at the circle, Stepan fired the disc back to Kreider, who one- timed it past Braden Holtby to send the game to overtime.
The Rangers dominated play in the overtime period and eventually picked up the season-saving victory when they took advantage of a Curtis Glencross turnover.
Jesper Fast picked off a Glencross pass in the neutral zone and skated into the Washington end down the right wing. Fast sent a pass over to the left wing for Stepan, who dropped it back for a one-timer by McDonagh that hit off the leg of Washington defenseman Tim Gleason and went in.
Before committing the costly turnover in OT, Glencross scored Washington's lone goal of the game. He went in on the clean breakaway and saw his first shot stopped by the glove of Henrik Lundqvist before chipping in a backhand for his first goal of the playoffs.
The top-seeded Rangers are counting on a repeat of last spring when they overcame a 1-3 deficit in the second round to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins. It marked the first time in Rangers history that they were able to come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing three of the first four games.
Washington, meanwhile, has blown a 3-1 series lead in recent history, losing to Montreal in 2010 during the opening round. The previous spring, the Capitals overcame a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Rangers from the 2009 conference quarterfinals.
"We're still breathing and we are going to go into Washington on Sunday and give it our best shot," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault.
Lundqvist made 28 saves to help New York earn its ninth straight victory when facing elimination at home, an NHL record. The Rangers have won 12 of their last 15 elimination games overall.
The Rangers also saw their NHL record for consecutive playoff games decided by one goal move to 12 straight. New York was last involved in a postseason game that was decided by more than one goal in a Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in last spring's Stanley Cup Finals.
Holtby played well in defeat, stopping 41 shots for a Washington club which was outplayed by the Blueshirts for much of the game.
"We were close, obviously," said Holtby. "It would have been nice to close it out. We have to be better."
There was a controversial moment late in the second period when a goaltender interference call negated what would have been a 1-0 Washington lead.
The Capitals put the puck in the net when Matt Niskanen's shot from the right point wound up going in. However, the goal was immediately waved off when it was ruled Joel Ward crashed into Lundqvist and prevented him from making a stop.
"We felt that obviously [Ward] was pushed in," said Caps head coach Barry Trotz. "They made the call and that was it. We just deal with it and move on."
The Capitals still are one win away from reaching the conference finals for the first time since 1998. Washington beat Buffalo for its only conference title that season, but was then swept by Detroit in four games during the Stanley Cup Finals.
If Washington is unable to end this series tonight, the clubs will head back to Madison Square Garden for a series-deciding Game 7 battle on Wednesday.
This series marks the fourth time in the past five seasons that these clubs are getting together in the playoffs and it's the fifth postseason encounter between the Blueshirts and Capitals since 2009. New York won the two previous encounters in 2012 and '13, taking both series in seven games. The only time the clubs haven't faced each other since 2011 was last spring when Washington failed to qualify for the playoffs.
All told, the Caps and Rangers have met eight times in the postseason and each club has taken four series.