You know how a winning team always gives credit to the home crowd? Well, here's a little secret: That's usually just something players say to make the fans feel good.
Sunday, though, Rangers fans really made a difference in the team's season-saving 1-0 win over the Capitals in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series at the Garden.
Derick Brassard, who scored in the second period for the game's only goal, admitted that the fans' chants for the Rangers to "Shoot the puck!" moments earlier were still ringing in his ears when he received a pass from John Moore at the blue line and saw Rick Nash screening Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
"The crowd was chanting to shoot the puck," Brassard said. "I didn't see myself giving a pass to one of my teammates there. I think I had to shoot it."
The fans earlier had chanted after Mats Zuccarello passed up a shot and the Rangers got nothing out of the possession. Maybe some players can tune out the fans, but Brassard is apparently not one of them.
"On the ice, it's a little different," Brassard said. "We're trying to make plays. Sometimes it's going to work. Sometimes it's not going to work."
Brassard, a 25-year-old forward the Rangers acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline in April, is making it work in his first playoffs. He has two goals and five assists for a series-best seven points as the Rangers head to Washington for Monday night's pressure-packed Game 7.
"Game 7s are unique," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I always talk about experience vs. non-experience . . . You look at Brass -- he doesn't give a crap what's going on on the ice. He's just playing."
But he's not just letting it fly, either. Brassard, who has come alive as a playmaker in these playoffs, hesitated a beat before shooting. He moved in from the blue line to the huge "Stanley Cup Playoffs" logo and sent one toward the Capitals goal that deflected in off the arm of Washington defenseman Steve Oleksy at 9:39.
"I just popped on the ice and Rick was right in front of the goalie," Brassard said. "I just tried to put the puck on net. Kind of closed my eyes and shot as hard as I could. Got a lucky bounce."
The goal was originally credited to Nash, who hasn't scored a goal in the series, and announced as such in the Garden, but it was changed to Brassard between periods.
Along with Moore, Zuccarello was given as assist. As was the Rangers crowd -- unofficially.
"They're really loud, Brassard said. "So it's really easy to listen to them."