With the help of Derek Stepan's deciding goal in the third period, the New York Rangers prevented the Washington Capitals from taking what would've been a commanding three-game lead to the series while holding court at Madison Square Garden with a 4-3 victory. The Blueshirts now have a chance to even the best-of-seven series on Wednesday in Game 4 at home.
With the game tied at 3-3, Stepan tallied his first goal of the playoffs with an expert tip at the right post to reclaim the lead for the Rangers with 6:25 to play. Earlier in the frame, the Caps and Rangers traded goals, with fourth-liner Arron Asham's goal from the doorstep in the opening minutes and Jay Beagle's deflection of Jack Hillen's shot for the equalizer at 7:19.
Derick Brassard finished the game with one goal and two assists to lead the Rangers with three points.
Grass is always Green-er: With his second score in as many games, Capitals defenseman Mike Green beat Henrik Lundqvist from the right circle for a game-tying goal with 2:41 remaining in the second. Green’s goal was the result of a Rangers gaffe earlier in the play when defenseman Michael Del Zotto failed to play the puck behind the net, allowing Washington to keep it in zone. Green, who knotted the score at 2-2, also notched the game-winner for Washington on Saturday in the Capitals' 1-0 overtime win in Game 2.
Penalty parade: The Capitals had trouble staying out of the box through the first two periods, taking six penalties in the opening 27 minutes. Even though the Rangers tallied only once on the man-advantage -- Brian Boyle’s first goal of the playoffs came just as a Washington penalty expired -- the power play appeared infinitely more active than in the previous two games of the series.
First strike: The Capitals took the crowd out of the game early, zapping the building’s energy with a goal just 4:06 into play. Nicklas Backstrom deflected John Carlson’s deep wrist shot for a 1-0 lead, a goal that was reviewed for a potential high stick but ultimately upheld.
Just barely: After eight straight failed power-play attempts, the Rangers cashed in just as their second man-up opportunity of the game expired, with Washington’s Joel Ward emerging from the box for high-sticking. Boyle drove to the net and ripped a shot off between the legs of Green to beat Braden Holtby and tie the game at 12:50 of the first period.
Staal returns: No Ranger on the ice received a more thunderous welcome than Marc Staal in his return to the lineup after missing two months with an injured right eye. The 26-year-old Staal played for the first time since being struck in the eye with a puck on March 5. Staal, who now wears a visor, was paired with Anton Stralman on defense.
Powe!: Rangers fourth-line forward Darroll Powe was forced from the game after initiating a hard hit on Ward along the boards in the first period. Though it was Powe who laid the hit on Ward, he appeared to catch an elbow that left him woozy while getting up and skating off to the bench. Powe missed time earlier this season with a concussion.
Up next: Rangers vs. Caps, Game 4, Wednesday at 7:30.