Gaborik scores winner in third overtime, Rangers lead series 2-1

See, what did I tell you guys? Nothing to worry about! Okay, I’ll admit that by midway through the second overtime in last night’s 2-1 Rangers win over Washington, it felt like the entire universe hinged on the outcome. Overtime playoff hockey is just that intense. I’m not sure if I would have woken up this morning if the Rangers had lost. In fact, I don’t think I would have gone to sleep. Probably would have just wandered the streets of Manhattan, muttering to myself.

Good thing Marian Gaborik finally ended his goal scoring drought with 5:19 left in the third overtime. If he hadn’t the game might have lasted forever. The way Alex Ovechkin’s golden chance bounced off the post in the first overtime and later on the way Mike Rupp’s open net opportunity was blocked by his own teammate Brian Boyle, you’d think that everyone had conspired to keep the game going as long as possible.

“It was about will,” Gaborik said about the victory, “We wanted to win this game, and it feels great to get that winner.”

I remember watching the second overtime and wondering how the players would ever muster up the energy to push the puck into one of the nets. It seemed like everyone was gassed at that point except for the goalies. Fortunately, the fourth intermission gave both teams a second (or third, or fourth) wind, and the pace picked back up in the third OT.

Both goalies, Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers and Braden Holtby for the Caps, were incredible. Although there weren’t a ton of eye-popping saves, Holtby was incredible with his glove, and Lundqvist was his usual self, refusing to let up a rebound or an easy opportunity. Just like Holtby in Game 2, Lundqvist was saved by the pipes on more than one occasion last night.

“It felt like it was never going to end,” said Lundqvist after the game, “but to win is such a special feeling. When a game is this long, the toughest challenge is in your mind. It’s such a good feeling because we put so much effort into this game.”

The Rangers versus Capitals series continues at 12:30 on Saturday.

By the way, here’s some awesome pics of Dan Girardi from SNY Rangers Blog. I’m pretty sure it was early in the first overtime when Girardi went behind the Rangers net to retrieve the puck and Lundqvist accidentally cut his face with the goalie stick. Girardi left to get stitches, but then returned to play the rest of the game. Like a boss.

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