Capitals force Game 7
New York coach John Tortorella had to watch from a private box as his team blew its second chance to eliminate the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference best-of-seven quarter-final.
In front of a hostile crowd at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon, the Capitals outplayed the Rangers in every department as they won Game 6 by a 5-3 margin to send the series to a seventh and deciding game.
Tom Poti had a four-point game for the Caps. The former Ranger scored a goal and added three assists.
Milan Jurcina, Mike Green, Viktor Kozlov and Alex Ovechkin scored the other goals for Washington. Dave Steckel added two assists.
Goaltender Simeon Varlamov continued to impress in his first playoff campaign, stopping 29 shots in the Capitals' crease.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist did not. He was pulled for the second straight game and gave up five goals on 20 shots through the first two periods.
"He can't play every game like a god," Ovechkin said of Lundqvist, who had stopped 141 of 149 shots in the first four games when the Rangers grabbed a 3-1 series lead. "He can't save the game all the time.
"When we play our game, we play simple. We play hard and nobody can stop us."
Scott Gomez, Ryan Callahan, and Marc Staal scored for New York. Callahan scored the Rangers' second goal at 4:21 of the third and Staal added a third with five seconds left in the game, making the score look close in what was a one-sided affair.
New York's Sean Avery returned to the lineup after he was benched in Game 5, but didn't factor on the scoreboard or in the penalty box during Sunday's game.
The Caps have outscored New York 9-3 in the last two games of the series. The teams will return to Washington for Game 7 on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET).
Schoenfeld steps in for Tortorella
Tortorella was serving a one-game suspension for throwing a water bottle over the glass and at a heckling Capitals fan during Game 5 in Washington on Friday.
The issue was far from resolved on Sunday, as the Rangers called on the NHL to impose sanctions on the Capitals for what they say was a lack of adequate security behind their team's bench on Friday night.
Jim Schoenfeld stepped behind the Ranger bench to coach the team. It's an interesting coincidence, since Schoenfeld was the last (and only other) coach to be suspended in the playoffs for his now-infamous scuffle with referee Don Koharski in 1988.
"We wouldn't put this on Torts and we won't put this on Shoney," captain Chris Drury said of Sunday's lopsided loss. "We just didn't play well enough."
Washington opened the scoring at 7:09 of the first. Jurcina scored short-side past Lundqvist after the Rangers turned the puck over in their own zone.
New York came right back with a goal of its own at 8:15, when Gomez deflected a Wade Redden slapshot on the power play.
That's when things got nasty.
Washington forward Donald Brashear laid a vicious shoulder hit to the head of unsuspecting Rangers forward Blair Betts at centre ice with around 10 minutes left in the first frame.
Betts didn't have the puck at the time, having dumped it in seconds before. He was face-down on the ice for several minutes and had to be helped off. The 29-year-old didn't return to the game.
Brashear took a two-minute penalty on the play for roughing in the scrum that followed, but he didn't get one for the hit.
"It was pretty vicious," Schoenfeld said. "(Betts) is hurt significantly."
The Capitals scored to make it 2-1 at 13:58. Green potted his first goal of the playoffs when he fired a shot through Lundqvist's legs on the power play.
It was 3-1 at 17:14 as Poti finished off a nice passing play on a 3-on-1, and the fans in Madison Square Garden were officially in shock.
It was more of the same in the second period, as Viktor Kozlov added to the Washington lead at 9:21 and Alex Ovechkin made it 5-1 on the power play at 16:44.
The Ovechkin goal hurt the most, as it came on a penalty that Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky took for running Green into the boards from behind.
Dubinsky tallied 14 minutes in penalties on the play — two for boarding, two for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
Lundqvist was pulled in favour Steve Valiquette to start the third period.
The last time the Capitals came back from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs was in 1988 versus the Philadelphia Flyers.