Rangers beat Capitals 2-1 for 2-1 series lead

Associated Press Modified: May 3, 2012 at 8:17 am •  Published: May 3, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Henrik Lundqvist had just spent the better part of 4½ hours repelling pucks and shooing skaters from the crease in the pressure-packed situation known as the Stanley Cup playoffs.

When it was all over, after the calendar moved from Wednesday to Thursday and the New York Rangers had defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in three overtimes, Lundqvist was absolutely drained.

"I think my entire body is just tired right now," said Lundqvist, who stopped 45 shots to help New York take a 2-1 lead in the series. "I just want to lay down and relax and get a message. My neck is hurting."

Marian Gaborik scored at 14:41 of the third overtime to help the Eastern Conference's regular-season champs grab back home-ice advantage from the seventh-seeded Capitals.

Brad Richards sent a pass from the backboards toward Gaborik, who ended the marathon by sliding the puck between the pads of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby.

"When you get into that many hours of playing, it becomes a mental game," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I felt if the game got longer and longer, our team was at an advantage. We have a mentally tough group. Just not giving in — that's the key."

It was Gaborik's first goal since New York's first playoff game against Ottawa, snapping an eight-game drought.

"I hope it gets Gabby going," Tortorella said. "He's a guy we need as we continue."

Holtby stopped 47 shots for the Capitals, but the last one got away.

"You just try to play every period the same," he said. "Once you start putting more pressure on yourself because it's overtime, that's when bad things start to happen. The game started to open up in the third overtime, but it happens."

Early in the third overtime, Washington killed a New York power play to keep the suspense going.

The game started at 7:40 p.m. and stretched into the next day, ending at 12:14 a.m. Thursday. There will be a two-day break before the teams meet for Game 4 on Saturday in Washington.

Asked if this game was a series-turner, Tortorella said, "The impact is we're up a game. They have to win three, we have to win two. The guys should feel good about themselves as far as what they went through. They didn't give in and found a way. Now we go about our business."

It was yet another low scoring, extremely tight game for the Capitals. Nine of Washington's 10 playoff games have been decided by one goal; the exception was New York's 3-1 win in the series opener.

John Carlson got a second-period goal for the Capitals, 2-3 in overtime this postseason. Ryan Callahan scored in the second period to make it 1-0 for New York, which improved to 1-2 in overtime during these playoffs.

Washington star Alex Ovechkin, who logged only 13½ minutes of ice time in the Capitals' 3-2 victory Monday in Game 2 in New York, finished with 20½ minutes in regulation. He had 6½ minutes in the first period, compared to 3½ in Game 2. After two periods, his 14:49 of ice time was the most on the team.