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Rangers Triple Their Pleasure in Triple Overtime

Marian Gaborik gives the Rangers a 2-1 win in the third overtime.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Good things come to those who wait.

    Marian Gaborik needed a goal.

    It took almost six full periods, but he got it. Gaborik scored 14:41 into the third overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 win and a 2-1 series lead.

    The score might have wound up making you think this was the same kind of tight, pound of flesh for every inch of ice game that we saw in New York. Quite the opposite, actually, during regulation.

    There were long stretches without whistles as the teams went up and down the ice with plenty of room and scoring chances waiting for them on the other end. There were also moments when both teams established control and went for the net, but the end-to-end stuff was a big difference from the other nights.

    It was a thrilling change, provided you find roller coasters and other things that make you feel like you have absolutely no control over your own body. Equally thrilling was the the way that both Henrik Ludqvist and Braden Holtby made the stops to keep that fast-moving style afoot.

    The first two goals of the game were hard to pin on the goaltenders. Ryan Callahan shoveled one past Holtby after a Michael Del Zotto shot pinged off of two different players and then John Carlson tied it after Marc Staal's pokecheck backfired to give Carlson an easy chance on net.

    Otherwise, the scoring chances through the first 60 minutes were either snuffed by the goalies or sent just wide of the net by players with good looks at the net. Marian Gaborik got another assist on Callahan's goal and he drew a penalty, but his own shots never found what they were looking for as his scoring slump stretched out another day. 

    The defense picked up in the third period as well, culminating in back-to-back penalty kills by the Caps and Rangers with less than six minutes to play in the game. There was one final flurry and then it was time for overtime.

    Overtime isn't the happiest place for the Rangers to find themselves. They've lost twice in the extra session already in these playoffs and Lundqvist had lost his last seven overtime playoff games heading into Wednesday night.

    The Rangers had two members of their defense shaken up in the first five minutes of the extra period, which resembled the rest of the game. Dan Girardi needed stitches and Ryan McDonagh got rung up on a clean hit by Matt Hendricks that wound up leading to a primo scoring opportunity that Troy Brouwer couldn't convert from the doorstep. 

    Both defensemen returned after barely missing a shift, which pretty much sums up everything about what they've done for the team all season, and the parade of close calls continue. Brad Richards whiffed on a golden chance, Alex Ovechkin hit a post after beating Lundqvist and the first overtime ran its course without a winner.

    That's when things started getting really tense. Hockey in double overtime isn't even fun because of how little you can enjoy the action while clenching parts of your body you didn't even realize you could clench.

    Mike Rupp had a great chance to win it blocked by Brian Boyle's rear end, the Rangers survived a rush after Lundqvist lost his goal stick and Callahan kept blocking shots as if he got a couple hundred thousand dollars every time it happened. That led to yet another overtime.

    The Rangers had the first great chance, but they couldn't find a way to get a goal on the power play after Rupp drew a high-sticking call. They would have most of the rest of them as well against a clearly exhausted Capitals team, but a combination of Holtby and bad luck kept the game lurching forward into the night.

    And then, after almost 115 minutes of hockey, Gaborik finally ended the overtime losing streak and his goalless streak. He hit a post on his previous shift and then parked himself on the footstep of the net for a perfect feed from Richards.

    In hindsight, the game felt like it was going to go the Rangers' way for a while before the goal because they were controlling the puck for long stretches, but it didn't really feel that way at the time. Everything is too fraught in a game like this to ever feel comfortable.

    Until it's over, at least. Now the Rangers can feel quite comfortable after surviving a battle like this.

    And they can enjoy two days until the next one.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.