THE BRONX - (AP) - With so little offense from their key playmakers, the New York Rangers dipped into a backup plan that no NHL team had used in more than 60 years.
Goals were at a premium throughout the first-round playoff series between the top-seeded Rangers and the upstart Ottawa Senators, who were looking to advance out of the No. 8 hole.
New York defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi staked the Rangers to a two-goal lead in the second period, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist bent but didn't break as the Rangers held on for a 2-1 win in Game 7 on Thursday night.
Not since 1950 had an NHL team won a Game 7 without the benefit of a goal from a forward, according to a fact released by the Rangers, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau.
"We found a way," relieved Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We were fortunate. I'm very happy with the group, and they should be real proud of themselves - for about an hour."
The Rangers earned the right to play the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals, a seven-game upset winner over the No. 2 Boston Bruins, the defending Stanley Cup champions. Game 1 is Saturday in New York.
It wasn't easy for New York, and after a home loss in Game 5, it almost wasn't likely. But the Eastern Conference's top-seeded team gutted out a big road win and then made it count in Game 7.
"You don't want to relax too much" said forward Derek Stepan, who had three points in the Rangers' Game 6 win and then helped set up the opening goal in the clincher. "We have a big round ahead of us and we have to make sure we stay focused and keep that emotion high."
Staal and Girardi scored 4:18 apart in the second period, Lundqvist made 26 saves and the Rangers completed a rally from a 3-2 series hole.