New York, NY – Derek Stepan's go-ahead goal with 6:25 remaining in Game 3 gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 victory, their first of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Washington Capitals.
The Rangers' offense came to life after dropping the first two games of the series in Washington, including a gut-wrenching 1-0 setback in overtime on Saturday.
Derick Brassard led the way with a goal and two assists, while Brian Boyle got back on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist for New York, which converted just 1-of-6 tries on the power play but killed off a late penalty to Brad Richards to secure the win.
Arron Asham also lit the lamp for the Rangers, who received a 28-save effort from Henrik Lundqvist and beat Braden Holtby four times on 30 shots.
Jay Beagle, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom all scored for Washington, while Alex Ovechkin was held without a point for just the fourth time since March 17.
The series, which will stay in New York for Game 4 on Wednesday, has been tight throughout and entered the third period of Monday's test tied at 2-2.
Brassard set up Asham's go-ahead one-timer with a pinpoint pass from behind the net 2:53 into the period, but the Capitals pulled even less than five minutes later.
After denying Mathieu Perreault with a glove save, Lundqvist was surprised by Jack Hillen's point shot off the ensuing faceoff. The puck deflected off Beagle in front and trickled past Lundqvist's left skate with 12:41 to play.
Crisp passing in the offensive zone led to the deciding tally. New York's Ryan McDonagh moved the puck from the point to the left corner, where Mats Zuccarello quickly fired a cross-ice feed behind the net to Rick Nash. Nash sent the puck on net from the boards, and it found Stepan's stick for a perfect deflection.
"It was a great pass. I didn't do much, I just went to the net and put my stick on the ice," Stepan said.
Ovechkin drew a penalty on Richards with 1:54 to go, and the Capitals pulled Holtby for a 6-on-4 advantage that went for naught.
The energy at Madison Square Garden was palpable before the opening faceoff, and the home crowd got louder when Ovechkin was sent off for roughing just 63 seconds into the game.
New York, though, failed to capitalize with the man advantage, and Backstrom completely silenced MSG with a deft deflection of John Carlson's point shot that bounced through Lundqvist's pads at the 4:06 mark.
The Rangers were up a man again around the midway point of the opening period, and this time they came through just as Joel Ward's high-sticking penalty expired. Boyle ended New York's 124:06 scoreless streak when he came down the right side and snuck one between Holtby and the post with 7:10 remaining in the frame.
Early in the second period and eight seconds after Holtby was whistled for tripping, the Rangers took the lead when Brassard knuckled one over the goaltender's right shoulder from the slot at the 1:23 mark.
"We took too many penalties," Ovechkin said. "The blame is on us."
Richards hit the post a little later on yet another power-play chance, and the Capitals evened things 2:41 before the middle period ended. Jason Chimera sent a nifty backhand pass to Perreault from the left boards, and the latter swung the puck to Green at the right side. Green, who netted Game 2's overtime winner, then skated into the circle and beat Lundqvist glove-side with a blistering wrist shot.
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal returned from a 29-game absence due to a serious eye injury and had 17:17 worth of ice time ... Boyle missed seven games with a knee injury before returning in Game 2 ... The Rangers are 1-for-13 on the power play in this series ... Washington went 0-for-3 on the power play for the game.