There was some disagreement about whether or not the Rangers had their backs against the wall coming into Sunday's game, but their play left no doubt.
The Blueshirts brought out their best performance of the playoffs. They played with more energy and urgency than we saw in either of the first two games of the series. They got their just reward, with a 3-2 win.
Brandon Dubinsky got the winner during a spell of 4-on-4 hockey when he put the puck off a couple of Capitals and watched it trickle into the net with 1:39 to play. It was a lucky bounce, but it was one borne of taking the puck to the net and seeing what happens.
That was the story of the entire game. After playing back on their heels in the first two contests, the Rangers pressed all day and savored the fruits of their labor.
They blocked shots, passes and made it a point to get the puck on the net without overthinking things. Their three goals came on Dubinsky's play, a rebound and a ridiculous angle shot by Erik Christensen, three testimonials to the wisdom of that strategy.
The victory didn't come without a little controversy. Ruslan Fedotenko appeared to score a goal just before the end of the second period, but a video review determined the puck did not cross the goal line until after the clock read all zeroes.
The ruling was difficult to understand for anyone watching the game on television, because the official clock cited by the NHL was not available on any replays shown by NBC until late in the final period. That missed opportunity, plus six goal-less power plays, including two 5-on-3's, left a distinct feeling during the third period that we were simply waiting for the other shoe to drop.
That feeling never felt more pronounced then the moment when Mike Knuble shoveled a rebound into the net to tie the score at 2 shortly after Vinny Prospal put the Rangers back into the lead. But, just as they did all afternoon, the Rangers dug deep and found the extra gear to get them the win they absolutely needed.
And so the Rangers are breathing again. On Wednesday we'll find out if home cooking can do the trick for them again.