“Drive by Girardi and a save… rebound, score! Stepan! In overtime! The Rangers move onto Tampa!”
A lot has happened with the New York Rangers over the past 5 years: playoff runs cut short, the Letter, free agent frenzies, signing highly coveted prospects, and more. However, 5 years ago to this day, Rangerstown was celebrating something arguably unmatched. On May 13th, 2015, Derek Stepan completed the comeback against the Washington Capitals in game 7.
It’s a series that all diehard Rangers fans remember: the anxiety of overtime, the low scoring battles, the relief and energy of those overtime winners.
In memory of this incredible moment, let’s take a look back at this thrilling seven-game series.
It was the second round of the 2015 Stanely Cup Playoffs. The series began at Madison Square Garden, as the Rangers were the victors of the President’s Trophy that season. The Blueshirts would drop game one by a tightly knit score of 2-1 but returned to the Garden two nights later to respond with a 3-2 victory. Henrik Lundqvist had an impressive .953 save percentage over the first 2 games.
The Rangers then made their trip to Washington, where in-game three were shut out by Braden Holtby. The only goal of the game came nearly halfway into the second, as Jay Beagle was able to get one past Lundqvist. The Rangers mustered 30 shots on goal, but Holtby stood tall. Game four would be just as close, as two goals from Andre Burakovsky led the Capitals to a 2-1 win. The Rangers were down 3-1 in the series, facing elimination as they returned to Madison Square Garden.
Things were not looking good for the Blueshirts, as the Capitals broke the ice just past the midpoint of the third period. But with just 1:41 remaining in the third period, Chris Kreider tied the game up and brought the Garden to its feet. 9:37 into overtime, Stepan laid a sweet backward pass to Ryan McDonagh, who fired it past Holtby to begin the comeback.
Game six in Washington was a high scoring affair, but the Rangers were able to pull out with a 4-3 victory. Chris Kreider had 2 goals, and Henrik Lundqvist stood tall and made 42 saves.
May 13th, 2015.
Game seven at Madison Square Garden. Everything is on the line, and the Rangers are looking to complete an incredible comeback from down 3-1 in the series.
For the 4th time in the series, the Capitals scored first, as Alex Ovechkin potted one just over halfway into the period. That would be the only goal given up by Henrik Lundqvist in the game. A rookie Kevin Hayes would respond in the second off of a great pass by J.T. Miller. Both goalies would stand tall in the third period, and the game would go to overtime for the second time in the series.
The nerves were evident. The stakes were high: game seven overtime to get to the Eastern Conference Final.
The atmosphere at the Garden was unmatched, and the Blueshirts were confident.
After a second consecutive icing by the Capitals just over 11 minutes into overtime. Derek Stepan lined up at the faceoff dot to the left of Braden Holtby. Jesper Fast sent the puck up to Keith Yandle on the tie-up by Stepan, who gave a nice pass to Dan Girardi. Girardi let a powerful one-timer go, which was saved by Holtby. Stepan then got the rebound right on his stick and buried it. 18,006 were on their feet at the Garden (minus some of the Caps fans who made the trip). Henrik Lundqvist threw up his arms in relief, and the Rangers were going to the Eastern Conference Finals.
I could watch this goal on repeat forever. Stepan’s pure elation as he jumps into the boards, the roar from the sold-out MSG crowd, the celebration from the players we know all too well. This goal marked the end of an unforgettable comeback for the Rangers and finished off an incredible series against the Capitals 5 years ago.
It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but as we look to our bright future, it’s always good to remember the amazing moments of the past.
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