One goal will likely be the margin of difference as these teams fight to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday night.
The Rangers held serve on home ice Sunday, winning 1-0 as Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves for his seventh career playoff shutout. Derick Brassard's slap shot from the point midway through the second period stood as the game-winner. The home team has won all six games in this series and the last 10 postseason matchups dating back to last year's conference semifinals.
"We are just going to have the same mentality we had coming into this game,'' Brassard said. "We just played our game, had fun. The guys were relaxed, and that's what we need to do (Monday).''
Last year's series also went the distance, with the Rangers posting a 2-1 victory in Game 7 as Lundqvist made 22 saves while Braden Holtby stopped 29 shots. Eleven of the last 12 playoff games between the teams have been decided by one goal - including the last five - with New York outscoring Washington 26-25 in the 13 games overall.
Lundqvist is 2-1 in previous Game 7s in his career, with the loss coming at Washington in the first round in 2009. He is 3-10 with a 2.00 goals-against average lifetime there in the playoffs - losing 10 of the last 11 - and the lone victory in that span came in a 2-1 triple overtime victory last year in Game 3, which was also the last road win by either team.
"They play really well at home and they're confident,'' Lundqvist said. "The games we've played in that building, special teams have played a big part. We played a really disciplined game, and that's going to be key for us because they have a really good power play, so you have to respect that.
This is the third time in as many career playoff series Holtby will start a Game 7, having also won at Boston 2-1 in overtime before falling to the Rangers last year. He has won five straight over New York at home in the playoffs since that triple overtime defeat and has a 0.97 GAA and .962 save percentage in six lifetime postseason games versus the Rangers in the nation's capital.
In a series of tight checking and few scoring opportunities, neither team has distinguished itself on the power play. The Rangers have had far more chances, but are 2 for 26 in the six games after failing to convert on five chances - including a 5-on-3 for 44 seconds on Sunday. Washington did not draw any power-play opportunities in Game 6 and is 3 for 14 in this series.
"We battled the whole way,'' Holtby said. "Disappointing, but we move along. Our (penalty-killing) is doing great, holding us in the series. Our guys kept their composure. We knew this could go seven.''
Both teams also have done standout jobs neutralizing their opponent's superstar. Alexander Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet for the fourth consecutive game - the longest such stretch of his career in the postseason - but did have a team-high five shots. For the Rangers, Rick Nash failed to register a point for the third straight game and has only one assist in this series.
The Rangers are 0-5 on the road in Game 7s in franchise history, and their only two road wins to decide playoff series came in 1986 at Philadelphia and the 1928 Stanley Cup final at Montreal when both were best-of-5s.
Washington lost its last Game 7 at home to Montreal in the first round in 2010, and is 3-7 all-time in such contests. The Capitals are 2-5 at home in Game 7s, with the only other victory coming in 1988 against Philadelphia.