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Pesky Rangers hang on to beat Caps again

Girardi, Stepan provide third-period fireworks; hosts even series 2-2

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Rangers right-winger Ryane Clowe (left) celebrates a goal scored by linemate Carl Hagelin during second-period action Wednesday night.

KATHY WILLENS / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Rangers right-winger Ryane Clowe (left) celebrates a goal scored by linemate Carl Hagelin during second-period action Wednesday night.

NEW YORK — Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan scored third-period goals for the New York Rangers, who squandered a two-goal lead and then held on to get even in the best-of-seven playoff series with a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Girardi ripped a shot from above the left circle, off a feed from Derick Brassard, to give the Rangers the lead again with a power-play goal 59 seconds into the third. The advantage was created by Jason Chimera’s interference penalty at the end of the second.

Stepan made it 4-2 at 6:02, scoring into a wide-open net at the end of a give-and-go play in front with Carl Hagelin, who had a goal and two assists.

Game 5 will be back in Washington on Friday before the series returns to Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The home team has won all four games in the first-round Eastern Conference matchup.

Brad Richards and Hagelin staked the Rangers to a 2-0 lead, but goals by Mathieu Perreault and Troy Brouwer tied it for Washington in the second period. The Capitals closed within 4-3 on defenceman Karl Alzner’s goal at 7:31 of the third.

Henrik Lundqvist, selected a Vezina Trophy finalist earlier Wednesday, made 27 saves. Braden Holtby stopped 30 shots for Washington.

Despite having a 26-15 shots advantage through two periods, the Rangers found themselves locked in a tie heading into the third. Washington was outshot 13-9 in the second but scored twice in the final 6:52 to get even after Hagelin made it 2-0.

The Capitals began spending more time in the New York zone and making it increasingly difficult for the Rangers to get the puck out. The momentum was shifting, and the nervousness began to grow within the crowd as Washington’s puck possession became more dangerous.

Joel Ward got the Capitals going when he led a strong rush up ice after the Rangers gave away the puck. Ward charged in, with Perreault, and made a hard move on defenceman Michael Del Zotto.

Ward got Del Zotto down to the ice near the left post and feathered a pass through the crease to Perreault, who tied up Richards and slid in his first career playoff goal.

The Rangers appeared set to get out of the second with the one-goal lead they brought into it, but Brouwer’s first of the playoffs tied it.

— The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2013 D3

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