There are games that change a season. There are games that give a team momentum. There are games where teams just get lucky. I have no idea which one this was (maybe all three) but either way, those types of games are ones that are remembered for a long. This will definitely be one of those.
I was fortunate to have tickets to the game and being there live for the last minute of regulation and the beginning of overtime – I can’t remember living through something like that. (While I was a fan in 94, I was not at those games.) The building was just electric. Not a fan in their seats – some screaming, some crying, all smiling. You couldn’t hear yourself think. And this was just Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals!!! I can’t imagine what that will be like if the Rangers go further.
It’s late and my brain is still trying to process what just happened so bear with me. To say the Rangers played a good game….I’m not sure I can say that. They definitely didn’t play a bad game but I can’t call it a dominating game which I should be able to when look at certain stats (shot totals come to mind). Anton Stralman scored a beautiful goal in the first period that brought the crowd to their feet. Every other shot on Holtby before the last minute of regulation was an easy save for him. All long shot points with no bodies in front – any goalie can make those saves! (That said, Holtby is the least of the problems for the Caps – yeah the shots were easy, but he still saved them all. He honestly deserved a better fate.)
Over the next two periods, the Capitals put fourteen (14!!!!!) shots on net. That was it, in the second and third periods. Of those fourteen shots, two hit the back of the net. Not Lundqvist’s finest hour, that’s for sure.
I know I said I wouldn’t give up on this team but when Carlson scored their second goal, I just felt so deflated. Momentum seemed to have turned and I thought that may be the series right there. But a funny thing happened. I have been going to games at MSG all my life and at that point, the Garden would turn on the team. They would become quiet or start booing. Not the best ideas but we’re all human and it was what it was. But tonight they didn’t do that. There was a couple of minutes of silence and then there was hope. If this was going to be the last period on home ice, the fans were going to let them know how proud they were. They cheered for nothing, they chanted “Let’s Go Rangers” just because they could. They were the seventh man. And for once, it worked.
I didn’t see the penalty. I knew they called it and heard it was four minutes cause Carl Hagelin was bleeding. Standing next to my dad, looking at the clock, he screamed that it was nice of them to give us a four minute power play with twenty-two seconds left completely pissed off cause he thought it was useless. To be honest, inside I think most Rangers fans thought it was – we might have had one shot in our three prior ones this evening. But with twenty seconds to go, you don’t think. You just pound the net and pray. Somehow, I will be completely honest and say I still don’t know how, but somehow the puck left Brad Richards stick and hit the back of the net. Six point six seconds to go, tie game.
I didn’t think they deserved the tie but who was I to complain about it? Best part – when overtime started they were still on the power play. (Yes I was more than happy to point that out to my dad – I may not be a little kid but that doesn’t mean I don’t like seeing him be wrong.) I don’t think the Garden calmed down for the entire intermission. The period started and everyone was on their feet. But the power play didn’t show up – the Rangers power kill did. If my memory serves me correctly (yes it was only a short while ago but you tend to forget everything that happened before the end), they almost got a short-handed breakaway. That would’ve taken the wind out of our sails real fast. Somehow the puck was frozen a minute and thirty seconds into the period. John Mitchell (seriously, how bad we’re we playing that JOHN MITCHELL was on the ice) took the face-off. Somehow he got the puck to Marc Staal and Staal put everything he had into that shot. I watched as it hit the back of the net, all guys in blue threw their hands in the air and the Garden was alive again. It is the most incredible feeling to see your team come back in a playoff game. There really is no words.
And so the Rangers won the game 3-2 and now lead the series 3-2. An entire fanbase went from saying “I’ll see you next year” to “I’ll see you next week against the Devils or Flyers”. Yes the series is far from over and it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a Game Seven, but tonight Rangers fans wanted to think only positive thoughts.
Because there are also games which just make you believe. I don’t think anyone can say they don’t believe in this team right now.