NEW YORK -- Marc Staal scored a power-play goal 1:35 into overtime after Brad Richards tied it in the dying seconds of regulation to lift the New York Rangers to a stunning 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night.
With goalie Henrik Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker, Washington's Joel Ward took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Carl Hagelin with 21.3 seconds left in the third period. Richards tied it on the first half of the power play with just 7.6 seconds to go, and Staal won it with a drive that appeared to deflect off a Washington player before beating goalie Braden Holtby.
The top-seeded Rangers can advance to the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday in Washington. If necessary, Game Seven would be back in New York on Saturday.
With the crowd still buzzing over the shocking tying goal, a din that held up through the long intermission, John Mitchell won a faceoff in the Capitals' end to start the winning play. Staal corralled the puck at the right point, glided to the center of the zone, and fired the drive that set off a wild celebration on the ice and in the seats at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers mobbed each other at center ice as the crushed Capitals trudged toward the tunnel to their dressing room and then raised their sticks to the crowd as red, white and blue streamers cascaded down from the rooftop.
The celebration, that culminated in fireworks as the three stars of the game were announced to the crowd, seemed almost inevitable after Richards tied it.
After no success with traditional 5-on-4 power plays, the Rangers made the most of their 6-on-4 edge as Lundqvist watched from the bench.
Michael Del Zotto took a shot that hit traffic in front to the right of Holtby. Ryan Callahan took two or three hard whacks at the loose puck, but couldn't get it forward. Richards jammed his stick into the maze of legs and poked the puck past Holtby just before he was able to cover it with his glove.
John Carlson, who had given the Capitals a 2-1 lead in the third period, couldn't keep the puck out, either, after he got in behind Holtby as a last line of defense.
Anton Stralman staked the Rangers to a 1-0 lead, but Brooks Laich answered for the Capitals in the second.
Carlson then snapped the 1-1 tie 4:20 into the third with the goal that appeared to put the seventh-seeded Capitals on the brink of knocking out the top-seeded Rangers.