NEW YORK - Curtis Glencross stood in front of the cameras and voice recorders, beads of sweat rolling down his forehead, quietly dissecting one of the most emotional games of his nine-year NHL career.
After scoring arguably the biggest goal of his life to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead midway through the third period, Glencross committed the neutral zone turnover that resulted in the Ryan McDonagh’s game-winning goal 9:37 into overtime, lifting the New York Rangers to a death-defying 2-1 win over the Caps at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s disappointing, obviously,” he said. “They picked off a hard pass across the ice out of the air and came back and unfortunately they put it in the back of the net.”
Glencross said his pass was intended for center Brooks Laich, who was streaking down the right wing.
“Brooksie was all alone wide,” Glencross said. “If I make a pass like that he’s gone in [alone] pretty much.”
Instead, Jesper Fast picked off the pass, carried the puck into the offensive zone and fed a cross-ice pass to Derek Stepan. With everyone in the building screaming for Stepan to shoot, he calmly handed the puck back to defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who stppd into a shot from the high slot.
“It looked like [Stepan] was going to shoot it,” Holtby said. “I saw that he dropped it back and I don’t know where it went. I heard it hit a stick and that was it.”
While the Rangers celebrated their good fortune, the Caps were left to wonder how they allowed victory to slip between their gloved fingers.
The Caps were 1:41 from clinching their first berth in the Eastern Conference Finals in 17 years when Chris Kreider pounded a one-timer that appeared to tick off caps defenseman Brooks Orpik and past a screened Holtby.
“I just didn’t see it,” Holtby said. “I don’t know if it got deflected or not. It just went through.”
Earlier in the third period, with 9:06 remaining, Glencross was sprung loose on a clean breakaway off a stretch pass from Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen.
“Willie [Tom Wilson] made a great play coming back and sacrificing himself [to steal the puck from Kevin Klein] and Nisky hit me,” Glencross said. “I was kind of surprised I had a breakaway [Henrik Lundqvist] made a good first save. I stopped at the net and I had a chance to get the rebound. It’s too bad it wasn’t enough to hold up.”
Now, the series will shift back to Verizon Center for Game 6, where another game will provide another hero.
“That’s hockey,” Glencross said. “We didn’t seal it up and when it goes to overtime it’s a game of mistakes and they got one.
“We’ll be good next game and we want to finish it off in six. We’ll have short-term memory, come back on Sunday and take the series.”
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