WASHINGTON - In the most critical road game of the season, the Rangers' special teams came through.
In the 4-3 win in Game 6 on Sunday night, the Blueshirts were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill -- a total of 7:39 shorthanded -- against the dangerous Capitals power play and scored a power-play goal, only their second of the series, in three tries.
The last penalty, with James Sheppard in the box for a delay-of-game penalty at 17:16 of the third period, was the most questionable call. With the Rangers protecting the one-goal lead, replays indicated that the puck hit the glass before going into the penalty box. But the Rangers held off a furious push, allowing just one shot on goal and blocking two.
"We're going to have to be just as good on the penalty kill on Wednesday," Derek Stepan said.
The penalty-killers, led by Dan Girardi (5:59 total), Dominic Moore (5:13), Ryan McDonagh (4:08) and Carl Hagelin (3:35), were active all night. Girardi blocked eight shots overall in the game, McDonagh seven before he was injured.
The Capitals' leading goal scorer on the power play during the season, Alex Ovechkin, with a league-leading 25 goals, was blanked again.
In the playoffs, the Rangers were 11-for-13 on the kill against the Penguins and 7-for-8 against the Capitals in the first five games (18-for-21, 85.7 percent). That was higher than only Montreal (71 percent) and Chicago (72.7).
With all six games decided by a goal, Chris Kreider's power-play goal with 0.3 seconds left in the first was huge. "That was a teamwork goal," Kreider said of his quick shot from in front past Braden Holtby. "I'm just on the receiving end."
The Capitals were 14-for-14 on the kill against the Islanders in the first round, and were 11-for-12 against the Blueshirts going into Game 6. At 24-for-25, that put them atop the remaining playoff teams at 96 percent.
Most of the first five games had been played five-on-five, with only 19 power plays. A power-play goal in those games could have tipped the scales. On Sunday night, when there were a total of seven power plays, it did.