Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Do Caps or Rangers have momentum?

NEW YORK — Crunch the numbers, ride the waves of momentum, then try to guess if the Capitals or Rangers will survive another Game 7.

The teams' win-or-go-home matchup of their Eastern Conference semifinal is Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Ah yes, Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers are 4-0 in Game 7s. It is also the place where the Rangers pulled out Monday's Game 5 by scoring a power-play goal with 7.6 seconds left in regulation and another less than two minutes into overtime.

Some believed that was a tide-turning win from which the Capitals would never be able to bounce back. It didn't quite work out that way. Alex Ovechkin scored 1:28 in as the Capitals took Wednesday's Game 6. Now it's the Rangers who will fight to make sure there is no carry-over in the other direction for Game 7.

"We can't let it," said captain Ryan Callahan, whose team beat the Senators in Game 7 in the first round. "We have to put this one behind us."

Whoever prevails will face the well-rested Devils with a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line. The Rangers, eliminated from the playoffs by the Capitals in two of the previous three seasons, haven't been to the conference final since 1997.

The Capitals, who beat the Bruins in Game 7 in the first round, have been there twice, the last in 1998.

"It takes a lot of character to bounce back all the time," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. "We have a lot of character in that room."

more caps: Rookie goalie Braden Holtby, 22, has been under more pressure than most realized. He became a father for the first time Thursday when fiancee Brandi Bodnar gave birth to a boy, Benjamin Hunter Holtby, at a Washington hospital.

Ducks: Coach Bruce Boudreau signed a two-year contract extension through 2014-15. Boudreau went 27-23-8 after replacing fired Randy Carlyle on Nov. 30, two days after the Capitals fired him as coach.

Stars: Bob Gainey, the general manager when the team won the Stanley Cup in 1999, was hired as a senior adviser. Gainey, who also coached the team, had been out of the league since being fired as Canadiens general manager in 2010.

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