The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves, half of them in the second period, and the seventh-seeded New York Rangers put the Washington Capitals on the brink of elimination with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
Lundqvist, who posted a 1-0 shutout win in Game 2, was on top of his game all night as the Capitals controlled play from the second period to the end — outshooting New York 39-21. But it’s the Rangers who hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Paul Mara staked the Rangers to the lead with 6:05 left in the first period, scoring just the second goal against 20-year-old rookie Simeon Varlamov, who has stopped 75 of 78 shots since taking over for Jose Theodore after New York’s 4-3 win in Game 1.
Chris Drury added his first goal of the series for the Rangers.
Varlamov got Washington back into the series with a 4-0 win Monday night, after the Rangers posted a pair of road wins, but now the Capitals — the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference — could be out of the playoffs Friday night when they host Game 5.
Alex Ovechkin finally scored his first goal of the series, but it was enough even with Washington having two late power plays created by Sean Avery’s undisciplined play.
Ovechkin, who screamed at his teammates on the bench before the third period, cut the Capitals’ deficit to 2-1 early in the final frame and nearly tied it twice. The first try was denied by the post during a power play, and then he was denied when Lundqvist made a reaching glove save with 5:13 left.
Lundqvist kept the Rangers in it during the second period, when the Capitals held a 19-5 shots advantage but fell further behind.
Taking the challenge to step up from coach John Tortorella to New York’s top players, team captain Drury made it 2-0 at 2:23 when he followed a rebound of his shot and scored.
Drury, nursing what is believed to be a hand or wrist injury that raised fears he could be out of the lineup for the second time this series, flipped a soft shot on goal from the left-wing boards that Varlamov bobbled out of his glove. Lauri Korpikoski nudged it to Drury for his 47th NHL playoff goal.
MONTREAL — Former Montreal forward Michael Ryder scored twice and assisted on David Krejci’s goal to help the Boston Bruins complete a four-game sweep of the Canadiens with a 4-1 victory Wednesday night.
Tim Thomas made 26 saves, and Phil Kessel also scored for Boston, which won the Eastern Conference quarterfinal for its first playoff series win in 10 years.
The top-seeded Bruins had lost five straight series — including losses to Montreal in 2002, 2004 and 2008 — since beating Carolina in the first round in 1999.
Andrei Kostitsyn gave Montreal a 1-0 lead 39 seconds in and the Canadiens dominated the scoring chances in the opening period, outshooting Boston 16-7.
The Bruins, though, went to the dressing room with a 2-1 lead after Ryder and Krejci scored 1:58 apart late in the period.