The New York Rangers, playing in the deciding game of their second round series against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, advanced to the Eastern Conference finals behind a dramatic game seven victory. In a one-goal game Derek Stepan, a 24-year old center, joined the likes of Esa Tikkanen, Todd Marchant, Pat Lafontaine, Claude Lemieux, and Martin Gelinas. Just as those players did in years gone by, Stepan scored an overtime winner in game seven of an NHL playoff series.
In what was a low-scoring game on Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin struck first following strong words in the days prior to the start of the game. He tallied his fifth goal of the post-season at 12:50 of the first period, a goal that gave Washington a 1-0 lead.
New York answered in the second period with a powerplay goal from Kevin Hayes. At that point the defences tightened up and no more scoring would come until Stepan broke the 1-1 tie in the overtime session – end the game and Washington’s season.
The series will not only be remembered for the game seven overtime session but for New York’s comeback. Down 3-1 after four games, the Rangers appeared to be done for. However heading into the Eastern Conference finals, New York, who made the Stanley Cup finals last year, are not only far from being done for but they are the new Stanley Cup favorites (source: betway).
Other teams remaining in the playoff mix include the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that New York will face in the conference finals. The Lightning are into the Stanley Cup semifinals following a 4-2 series win over Montreal, a series that concluded on Tuesday.
The dates and times for the Eastern Conference finals are as follows (all times ET):
Game 1: May 16th @ 1pm
Game 2: May 18th @ 8pm
Game 3: May 20th @ 8pm
Game 4: May 22nd @ 8pm
Game 5: May 24th @ 8pm*
Game 6: May 26th @ 8pm*
Game 7: May 29th @ 8pm*
New York, the regular season champion in the Eastern Conference, will be the home team in the series meaning that they will host games 1, 2, 5, and 7. Tampa Bay will host the remaining games as they look to make it back to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since winning it all in 2004.