Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hayes, Stepan Power Rangers to Conference Final

Kevin Hayes (Boston College) tied the game on a redirection just over six minutes into the second period, and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin) won it off a rebound 11:24 into overtime as the New York Rangers completed their comeback from a three games to one deficit with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers, who overcame a 3-1 shortfall in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight season, also played in their 14th consecutive one-goal Stanley Cup playoff contest. Both are NHL records.

Hayes' goal came on a power play, while Stepan's was the resuilt of a faceoff win and then a shot from the blueline. It was Hayes' second career postseason goal, and Stepan's third so far this spring. New York outshot Washington, 39-36, although the Caps had eight of the 13 shots in sudden death, and also outscored them 13-12 in the series, with each game decided by a goal. The Rangers also won three of the four games staged at MSG.

The Capitals have still not advanced to a conference final since 1998, where they bested the Buffalo Sabres and then were swept in the final by the Detroit Red Wings. They were two minutes away from getting back in Game 5 this round, with a 1-0 lead provided by Curtis Glencross (Alaska Anchorage). Chris Kreider (Boston College) then tied that contest late then Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin) won it in OT to keep New York alive, before a 4-3 triumph in Game 6 where Kreider scored twice to help knot the series.

New York, the NHL's top team during the regular season, will now host the Tampa Bay Lightning starting Saturday for the Eastern Conference title. Game 1 will be held at 1 p.m. at MSG.

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