I can’t pinpoint when it happened. If I had to guess I’d say it was midway through the second overtime. But when it happened, there was no denying it. The Rangers had taken control of the game. The Capitals looked physically and emotionally spent. The Rangers appeared to be entering another gear. It was as if after 90 minutes of hockey the Rangers finally realized, “Hey, we’re the best team in the Eastern Conference. We’re the best team left in the playoffs. We’re better than the Capitals. Let’s go win this fackin’ thing.”
And so they did. At 12:14 a.m., almost five hours after the longest Rangers game since March 21, 1939, had begun, Marian Gaborik gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 series lead.
And my God did it feel amazing.
I know it’s only a game and blah blah blah, but last night was different. I was an emotional and physical wreck for the final four periods of that marathon. I sweated through my clothing but at the same time needed a blanket because I was freezing. I was impossibly thirsty but did not have the appetite to drink or eat anything. When Gabby scored I wanted to yell and celebrate but I did not have the voice or energy to do so. I fell to my knees, laid on the ground, and realized it was truly a miracle that Ryan McDonagh was still alive. Mac Truck is less than six months my elder, but it’s safe to say if I played 50+ minutes of hockey in one night, against some of the best athletes in the world, and was hit so hard (by Matt Hendricks) that my body was nearly split in half, I would not have survived.
But Mac Truck persevered, and so did the Rangers. Henrik broke his streak of playoff overtime losses, Gabby broke his goal drought, and the Rangers broke the collective will of the Washington Capitals.
Was last night a great moment in a bittersweet story or a beautiful chapter in a perfect novel? It’s too early to say, but in the wee hours of Thursday morning, on this May 3, 2012, it’s hard to see anything or anyone stopping the New York Rangers.