May 9, 2012

Tortorella, Richards hope Rangers can close out Caps

By Jesse Connolly

After snatching victory from the jaws of defeat on Monday, the New York Rangers will to finish off the Capitals in Game 6 and advance to the conference finals for the first time since 1997. 

Brad Richards has five points through five games in the Rangers' series against the Capitals. (Getty Images)

John Tortorella’s (Melrose, Mass.) squad trailed 2-1 until an untimely, double-minor penalty by Caps forward Joel Ward (high-sticking) in the final minute of regulation put them on the power play. Brad Richards tied the game with under seven seconds to go and Marc Staal buried the game winner early in overtime.

"They're all emotional games," Tortella said after the win, which gave his club a 3-2 series lead. "It's a kick in the gut when you lose because it happens so quickly and it's pretty exciting when you win because it happens quick."

New York and Washington have been in this spot before. The Caps knocked out the Rangers in the opening round of the postseason in both 2011 and 2009. In their 2009 clash, the seventh-seeded Blueshirts took a 3-1 series lead over the Southeast Division champs before losing the next three games.

The Rangers hope to take care of business down at Verizon Center on Wednesday night and keep the Caps from forcing a decisive seventh game back at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

“We want to close it out,” Richards, who leads New York with ten points in 12 playoff contests, told the New York Daily News.

“We want to get this over with. It’s a lot easier said than done, but we want to have the mind-set we’re as desperate as they are. . . . That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and if it doesn’t it’s not the end of the world. But we’ve got to have that mentality.”

The Rangers are 3-2 on the road in the playoffs. They took Game 3 down in Washington by a score of 2-1 before falling 3-2 in Game 4. The Capitals are just 2-3 on home ice in the postseason. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.