NEW YORK - If Alex Ovechkin did, in fact, score the winning goal on Sunday afternoon, it might be the most forgettable one of his career.
That's because it went in his own net.
To be fair, no one seemed to know for certain if Brandon Dubinsky's shot, one that deflected off the shoulder of Washington Capitals defenceman Karl Alzner, was going in anyway when Ovechkin touched the puck.
Or, if The Great Eight made contact before or after it crossed the goal line.
And, to be frank, Dubinsky and his New York Rangers don't care.
The only thing that matters to them is that the ugly goal, unofficially known as the Broadway Bloop, floated over the shoulder of goalie Michal Neuvirth to give the Rangers a much-needed lifeline in their first-round matchup against the Caps.
Thanks to Dubinsky's game-winner with just 99 seconds remaining in regulation, the Rangers are back in this series with a 3-2 victory in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden. Indeed, the Caps' lead in games has been whittled away to 2-1 in dramatic fashion, with Game 4 going on Wednesday at The World's Most Famous Arena.
And for a Rangers team that had scored only once in 138 minutes, 24 seconds in the first two games, artistic merit was not a factor. Winning was.
That's why Dubinsky and his coach, John Tortorella, will take it, even if they didn't actually see the puck go in.
"I lost sight of the puck," Dubinsky said. "I was ready to hack and whack at it when, all of a sudden, I saw the referee pointing at the back of the net." Added Tortorella: "I even think it went off Ovechkin╣s stick." Had the Rangers dropped this game, they would have been toast. Only three teams in NHL history - the 1942 Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers - have ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in games in a post-season series, so you could have prepared the eulogy for the Broadway Blueshirts heading into Game 4.
Instead, with the likes of Boomer Esiason and John McEnroe in the house, the Rangers came out ahead and can hold serve at home by beating the Caps a second consecutive time.
The blueprint for success on this afternoon was simple: Shoot more and jam the net. Sure enough, goals by Dubinsky and Erik Christensen came from bad angles.
"We've been stressing that," Dubinsky said. "Fortunately, things worked out for us." A huge weight was lifted from the Rangers' collective shoulders when Christensen beat Neuvirth early in the second period. Not only did it open the scoring, it also snapped New York's goalless string at 121 minutes, 58 seconds.
After Ovechkin tied the game with one minute remaining in the second, the Rangers appeared to take the lead when Ruslan Fedotenko's effort from the side of the net slid over the line at the buzzer for the second intermission. After the officials went to video replay, it was deemed that time had expired.
"We couldn't get down," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We had to keep going." Sure enough, after Vinny Prospal and Mike Knuble exchanged third-period goals, Dubinsky allowed the Rangers to get back into the series.
"We are not far off," Tortorella said. "Now it is 2-1, but it could be reverse. It could be us 2-1.
"It is that close."
Thanks to the Broadway Bloop.