New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

Thanks to a Derek Stepan overtime winner in Game 7 against the Capitals, the New York Rangers are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals.

By Robby Sabo

It’s something, as a fan, you can watch with only one eye.

The reason? Well, because this New York Rangers team doesn’t know any other way except the hard, excruciating way.

Thanks to a Derek Stepan overtime winner, 11:24 into the first extra session, the Rangers are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The game started in a very eerie fashion.

After guaranteeing the Game 7 victory at Madison Square Garden, Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin backed it up early. He beat Ryan McDonagh off the boards and was set up by a beautiful pass by Marcus Johansson which led to the first goal of the game 12:50 into the first.

The period didn’t pass without plenty of opportunities for the Blueshirts.

Rick Nash found himself all alone on a breakaway while penalty killing. Attempting a five-hole fit in off a deke, Braden Holtby stoned him with the stick. The period was a terrible one for New York.

To start the second, however, the Caps took three consecutive penalties. It wasn’t until the last one that the Rangers could finally capitalize. Rookie Kevin Hayes took a pass from J.T. Miller and chipped one past the Caps goalie.

The rest of the second and regulation proved to emulate more of a Stanley Cup Playoff game feel. The referees choked on the whistle and the cautious play picked up.

Starting overtime, it was all Washington. Shot after shot, Henrik Lundqvist was peppered. At one point, after Dominic Moore’s stick was slashed and broken, it felt like the Caps had control of the puck for nearly two-minutes down low.

Eventually though the Rangers weathered the storm, leading to this all-important faceoff:

Stepan won the draw back to Keith Yandle who quickly shoveled it to Dan Girardi. The key to the play was two-fold. First, Girardi got the shot through. Meanwhile, horse Chris Kreider got to the front of the net and wouldn’t be denied. This led to the fortunate bounce on Stepan’s stick.

Lundqvist came up huge, yet again in Game 7. He stopped a total of 35 Caps shots. Holtby was just as good coming up with 37 saves.

The Eastern Conference Finals will begin on Saturday at Madison Square Garden against some familiar faces.

Click Here for Box Score and Full Game Recap.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]