Facing playoff elimination on the road in front of a frenzied towel-waving crowd, the Rangers rallied from a 1-0 deficit Monday night to earn a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. With the series now tied 3-3, a decisive Game 7 will be played Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Derek Stepan scored the Rangers first goal and recorded a three-point night, while Brad Richards had a goal and an assist, and Chris Kreider scored his first goal in the National Hockey League as the visitors scored three times in the second period against Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, who had shut them out on 41 saves in Game 5 at The Garden.
Henrik Lundqvist sparkled in goal for the Rangers, stopping 25 of 27 shots, including a scintillating act of thievery sliding across his crease to rob Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson---back in the lineup after a three-game injury-related absence---midway through the second period. Lundqvist was at his best in the third period, making 13 saves against a desperate Sens squad, allowing only a disputed goal by Jason Spezza in the final seconds---one the Rangers were convinced was kicked over the goal line by Chris Neil.
Trailing 1-0 early in the second period, the Rangers exploded for three goals in a span of a little more than ten minutes to completely turn around the complexion of Game Six. Stepan's first career post-season goal---off a patient and perfectly-placed cross-ice by Richards---at 8:55 tied the game and gave the Rangers a chance to exhale as it ended Anderson's shutout streak at 145 minutes and 27 seconds, dating back to Ryan Callahan's power play goal early in Game 4 last Wednesday.
The goal also came with Ottawa's Milan Michalek in the penalty box after he took an offensive zone penalty a minute before by holding Marc Staal behind the Rangers net. It would be the first of two power play goals in the period for the Rangers as Richards hammered a slap shot past Anderson during a two-man advantage at 17:08 to give the Rangers their first lead of the night. This time Filip Kuba and Nick Foligno were in the box for Ottawa, the latter for running into Lundqvist---a penalty that made Senators coach Paul MacLean livid with the officials.
Still clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Rangers received a huge goal from Kreider with just 40.3 seconds remaining in the second period which provided them more breathing room heading into the second intermission. Kreider one-timed a gorgeous pass from Stepan past Anderson on the short side for his first goal in profesisonal hockey, roughly two weeks after winning the NCAA title in his final collegiate game for Boston College.
Stepan, who entered play without a point in ten career playoff games, earned his second assist and third point of the night on Kreider's goal.
The Rangers played without injured center Brian Boyle---concussed on a Chris Neil hit in Game 5---though rookie Carl Hagelin returned from his three-game NHL suspension.