Rangers beat Capitals to narrow playoff deficit

By Steve James

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Brandon Dubinsky scored with less than two minutes to go as the New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Sunday to lift themselves back into the NHL's Eastern Conference quarter-finals.

Washington leads the best-of-seven playoff series 2-1 with Game Four scheduled for Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Dubinsky backhanded the winner past Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth from a goalmouth scramble after the visitors' Mike Knuble had tied the game at 2-2 with five minutes to go.

New York had goals from Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal, while the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin also scored.

The Rangers, who were eliminated two years ago by the Capitals, had lost the first two games of this year's playoffs in Washington last week.

The first period was scoreless as the Rangers defense thwarted the Capitals' potent attack and held the visitors' leading scorer Ovechkin without a shot on goal during the opening period.

The Capitals, who ended the regular season in first place in the East, didn't help their cause by having to play shorthanded after drawing eight penalties -- twice as many as the Rangers, who squeaked into the playoffs as the eighth seed.

New York failed to take advantage of a 5-on-3 advantage at the end of the first period but the Rangers would grab the lead early in the second when Christensen blasted a slap shot past a screened Michal Neuvirth.

Ovechkin, who led the Capitals in the regular season with 32 goals, quieted the raucous crowd with a minute to go in the second, tipping in a Jason Arnott rocket.

At the end of the second period, the Rangers thought they had regained the lead when Ruslan Fedotenko's shot from behind the net was diverted past Neuvirth. But the NHL's video review team ruled it was no goal as the clock had counted down to zero before the puck entered the net.

Rangers' sniper Prospal put the home team back in the lead in the third when he buried the rebound of a Marc Staal shot past his Czech compatriot Neuvirth.

But the Caps came back to tie the game when Knuble, an ex-Ranger, scored after goalie Henrik Lundqvist failed to hold Niklas Backstrom's one-timer from a clever Ovechkin pass.

Lundqvist ended the game with 22 saves, while Neuvirth had 32.

(Editing by Rex Gowar; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)