The day before what turned out to be an epic Game 3 between the Rangers and the Capitals, New York coach John Tortorella had lamented about slumping star Marian Gaborik that "obviously we need him to score some goals here."
Well, Gaborik's first goal in nine games since Game 1 of the opening round against Ottawa certainly was worth the wait.
Gaborik buried the game-winner at 14:41 of triple-overtime to lift the exhausted Rangers to a 2-1 marathon victory Wednesday on the road and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series.
"I hope it gets Gabby going. He's a guy we need," Tortorella said after the game about Gaborik, the Rangers' leading scorer during the regular season. "It's just one game and we have so many other things to take care of, and hopefully this will get him going."
After the teams traded several golden chances throughout the overtime sessions, including a shot off the post by Gaborik, Rangers center Brad Richards plucked a dumped-in puck off the wall behind the Washington net and fed the puck in front to Gaborik, who slammed it past Caps goalie Braden Holtby before being mobbed by his jubilant teammates along the side wall. It was the Rangers' longest game in 73 years
"It was about will. We wanted to win this game and it feels great to get the winner," Gaborik said.
"Richie to Gabby, he puts it in, and let's get out of here," added captain Ryan Callahan, who scored the Rangers' first goal. "Guys are exhausted, battling, guys laying down in front of pucks, Hankie (Henrik Lundqvist) came up with the big saves, and we found a way."
As proud as Tortorella was of Gaborik's clutch moment, the fiery coach gushed about his top-seeded team's makeup after pulling out what may or may not turn out to be a seminal win during their playoff run this spring.
"When you get into that many hours of playing, it becomes a mental game," Tortorella said. "I felt when the game got longer and longer, I felt like our team had the advantage. I think we have a mentally tough group and some of the things you go through at the beginning of the year, we talked about that. We talked about trying to get any edge we could. That's the key, just don't give in."
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