OTTAWA -- It is rare, particularly after a do-or-die victory that forces a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, to see the winning goaltender slam his stick on the crossbar and rant afterward.
But it illustrates the passion and competitiveness of Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves as the Rangers beat the Senators, 3-2, in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Monday night to bring the series back to New York on Thursday.
With the Rangers ahead 3-1 late in the third period, a scrum developed in the crease, and with Lundqvist down, the puck trickled across the line with 38.4 seconds left. It appeared to have been kicked in by Chris Neil. Lundqvist leaped up and argued, but a review in Toronto decided that the goal counted. It was credited to Jason Spezza.
"When it's goalie interference and a kick and they still call it a goal, it scares me. It's an absolute joke," Lundqvist said. "I'm going to freeze the puck, he pushes me out and kicks the puck. It scares me that they can call that a goal. I'm still upset. Someone wants them back in the game, because there's no other explanation."
The Rangers, who had scored three consecutive goals in the second period -- two on the struggling power play -- held on with a gritty effort to tie the series at three games apiece.
"We did a great job drawing the penalties. That's the difference: capitalizing. It's deflating when you don't," said Brad Richards, who had a power-play goal and assist. "We knew it's tough to close out on home ice when you know you have another game to play, so we knew if we could just stay in the game and get a little momentum that it's going to be tough for them."
With Milan Michalek negating a Senators power play by holding Marc Staal behind the net, a tip-in by Stepan at the left post on Richards' angle pass at 8:55 of the second tied it at 1 and snapped goalie Craig Anderson's shutout streak at 145:27.
"I got a little of a monkey off my back," Stepan said. "I was having a tough time scoring. It was a relief to find the back of the net. Not only that, the power play gets a boost from it, too."
Stepan's goal opened the gates. When Jakob Silfverberg boarded Ryan McDonagh at 9:18, the Rangers had the man-advantage again. Kreider skated through the crease and collided with Anderson, but Filip Kuba hooked Ruslan Fedotenko, getting the Rangers out of trouble at 15:42. Then, in a critical call 16 seconds later, Nick Foligno crashed into Lundqvist in the crease. On the five-on-three, Richards slapped a shot from the right circle on a pass from Michael Del Zotto for his first goal since Game 1. Then Kreider banged a shot from the left side off Anderson's right pad from about 30 feet at 19:19.
In a game that grew increasingly nasty, the Rangers escaped elimination without center Brian Boyle (team-leading three goals), who suffered a concussion in Game 5 on a third-period hit from Neil, who was not suspended. Brandon Prust fought Neil at 15:10 of the first and Del Zotto nailed him with a check in the third. Neil issued a threat after the game, saying, "I'm sure I'll catch him with his head down one of these times."
After a roughing call on Mike Rupp, Neil, standing at the left post, got a piece of Sergei Gonchar's shot from the right point at 7:05. It was the second consecutive game that the Senators scored first. This time, however, the Rangers erased it.