WASHINGTON - The season has come down to one game at Madison Square Garden tomorrow. The Rangers either beat the Capitals or go home for the summer.
They were put in the precarious position by Mike Ribeiro and his Washington teammates, who won Game 5 of the best-of-seven first-round series, 2-1, on Ribeiro's goal at 9:24 of overtime Friday night. The Capitals lead the series 3-2.
It was the second overtime win for the Capitals, who have won 10 of the last 11 playoff games against the Blueshirts at Verizon Center, where Game 7, if necessary, would be played.
"I don't consider [Sunday's game] an "elimination'' game,'' coach John Tortorella said. "We're trying to win one game. I'm not even going to use that word. We've bounced back. For guys who haven't been in it, it's an opportunity. That's the way they have to look at it.''
Home teams are 5-for-5 and four of the five games have been decided by a goal. Mike Green won Game 2 here with the lone goal of the night.
"We were one bounce away from going home with a chance to close it out,'' Ryan Callahan said. "It's a tough one to lose in overtime. We can draw from last year when we were in the same situation, going on the road in Ottawa (when the Rangers won Game 6, 3-2). We've got the guys in here to do the job.''
One guy who is being thwarted at his job -- scoring -- is Rick Nash, who had two shots on goal in 20:05 and has a grand total of one assist in five games.
"I had some chances to make something happen,'' Nash said, "but it's not going in right now. I've just got to work out of this slump. They're closing the space; we've got to figure out how to get a better forecheck. We've played them five times now, we know what's going on, I don't know if it's frustration, but it's not a good thing when you can't help your team win.''
Ribeiro did help his club win. Alone at the right post, he beat Henrik Lundqvist after Karl Alzner's shot bounced off Troy Brouwer and right to him. Lundqvist made 33 saves, including two stunning stops in overtime.
Special teams again were a major difference. The Rangers were 0-for-4 on the power play and are 2-for-21 in the series.
The sellout crowd was silenced quickly when, from behind the net, Derick Brassard found Brian Boyle, who slid the puck between Braden Holtby's pads just 53 seconds into the game. It was Boyle's second goal of the playoffs and Brassard's fifth assist in the past three games.
In the third, Capitals defenseman John Carlson almost ended it with 8:23 to go when his right-circle wrister hit the post.