Andre Burakovsky lifts Caps past Rangers 2-1 for 3-1 series lead

AP Sports Writer

Burakovsky tied the game in the second period, then put Washington ahead 24 seconds into the third.

With 12 minutes left in regulation, Holtby — who finished with 28 saves — flicked his glove to catch Carl Hagelin's penalty shot and preserve the lead.

The Capitals can close out the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers in the best-of-seven series and advance to the conference finals for the first time in Alex Ovechkin's career by taking Game 5 in New York on Friday night.

The Capitals won a fifth consecutive home game in the same postseason for the first time, according to STATS.

This marks the Rangers' 11th consecutive playoff game, dating to last season, decided by one goal, extending their NHL record.

Derick Brassard put New York ahead 1-0 a little more than six minutes into the second period, with assists from Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash, neither of whom has a goal in this series.

It was Brassard's fifth goal of the postseason and second of the series — both team highs.

But New York's lead didn't last very long, thanks to Burakovsky, a first-round draft pick in 2013 who scored nine goals in 53 games during the regular season — none since Feb. 15. Asked Tuesday about the 20-year-old's increasingly physical play, Capitals coach Barry Trotz said: "He'll be a 200-pound, strong young man in a year or two, and he doesn't have that man strength yet. He still has that boy strength."

Whatever the state of his physique, Burakovsky joined Evgeny Kuznetsov as a Capitals rookie making his mark on these playoffs. Kuznetsov has four goals, including the go-ahead score in Game 7 against the New York Islanders in the first round.

Late in the second period Wednesday, Burakovsky tied it, taking the puck from the right circle and powering across the ice before shooting past Henrik Lundqvist. He had a great chance to make it 2-1 with a minute left in that period when defenseman John Carlson's pass found him all alone, but Burakovsky shot wide of the net.

He didn't miss on his next opportunity, however.

Almost immediately in the third period — as the crowd chanted "Rock the red!" in a nod to the Capitals' uniforms — Burakovsky put Washington out front.

Along the boards, Troy Brouwer kicked the puck away from defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Burakovsky retrieved it. He skated in alone on the left side, moved in front and put a backhander by Lundqvist.

Then it was Holtby's turn to make that edge hold up. Hagelin broke in alone and Capitals defenseman Mike Green, chasing from behind, first poked at the left wing with his stick, then brought him down. When Holtby snatched the penalty shot, fans responded with earsplitting yells of "Holt-bee! Holt-bee!" and Green skated over from the bench area to give his goalie an appreciative tap with his stick.

NOTES: Late in the first period, Lundqvist appeared to get hit just below his mask by a shot from Brooks Laich. Lundqvist bowed his head and briefly looked a bit out of sorts. The goalie missed nearly two months this season after a puck smacked him in the neck. ... The Capitals won five home games in a row spread over the 2012 and 2013 postseasons. ... After hitting a career-high three home runs in the Nationals' 7-5 victory over the Marlins, Bryce Harper attended the hockey game, along with Stephen Strasburg and other teammates. ... Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was announced Wednesday as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, given to the top coach in the NHL, along with Calgary's Bob Hartley and Nashville's Peter Laviolette. It's Vigneault's fourth time as a finalist; he won the award in 2007 with Vancouver.


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