WASHINGTON - Rangers coach John Tortorella said before last night's Game 7 with the Capitals that "I think a few of our guys are due.''
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Rangers stars Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan were quiet until Callahan scored the fourth goal -- the back-breaker -- just 13 seconds into the third period. Mats Zuccarello netted the final Rangers tally.
Asham was the only Ranger whose goal wasn't his first of the series. It was his second. The Rangers had scored 11 times in the first six games.
"Guys stepping up, different guys'' said Derick Brassard, who was the breakout offensive star of the series with two assists last night to give him seven, along with two goals. "You see it tonight -- some guys putting the puck in the net and it's great to see.''
It didn't matter who scored, just that they did, as the Rangers rode the momentum of Sunday's 1-0 Game 6 victory at the Garden to a convincing win and a date with the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"That's what we need,'' Nash said. "If you look at this team, everyone chips in, everyone helps. It's not one guy, obviously besides your goalie, who's amazing every night. But other than that, everyone chips in, everyone helps. We win together, we lose together. It's a good team.''
The Rangers survived the Capitals' early surge thanks to stellar goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist and 13 first-period blocks.
"It was a big start for us,'' Nash said. "I think Hankie was our backbone. He made some huge saves early. Kept us in it and then credit to Ash -- that was a great goal."
Asham, the former Islander, put the Rangers ahead at 13:19 of the first period after Lundqvist stopped Mike Green on the other end.
"He's a veteran,'' Brassard said of Asham. "He's played in a lot of playoffs. He knows what it takes to get to those areas. It's great to see him get rewarded for the work that he does.''
Asham scored off a pass from Chris Kreider, the playoff sensation from a year ago who had been in and out of the lineup in this series.
"It's the guys who grind it out,'' Asham said. "If they can chip in a few goals here, it's going to help your team immensely.''
Pyatt made it 2-0 when he put in a rebound of Steve Eminger's shot 3:24 into the second period.
Del Zotto scored 2:10 later, assisted by Brassard and Nash.
Any thought of a Capitals comeback was thwarted when Callahan stole the puck from John Carlson at center ice, skated in on Braden Holtby and put in a backhander 13 seconds into the third period.
Zuccarello made it 5-0 when he scored after a pair of dekes at 6:39, assisted by Brassard and Eminger.