NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals showed an edge in determination last night, and that, along with the scoring touch of Dino Ciccarelli, has put them within one victory of the next playoff round.
Ciccarelli scored at 6 minutes, 44 seconds of overtime, giving the Caps a 5-4 triumph over the New York Rangers and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Patrick Division semifinals.
The Rangers had taken a 4-3 lead at 9:29 of the third period on a goal-mouth play by rookie Steven Rice. That goal looked like the decisive one, since the Rangers were at home and had an all-rookie line of Rice, Tony Amonte and Corey Millen that seemed to be wearing down the Capitals with speed.
Instead, Mark Hardy took a holding penalty, and Kevin Hatcher, who had eight shots, scored from the point. Then, in the overtime, the Caps dominated. Finally, after the Rangers misfired on a four-on-two, the puck worked its way behind the New York net.
Ciccarelli -- taunted earlier in the game by Garden fans for his personal problems -- eluded defenseman David Shaw and, while Shaw was being hooked by Dimitri Khristich, circled to the side of the goal and beat goalie Mike Richter from a wide angle. Al Iafrate received an assist.
Ciccarelli's shot was the last of 55 for the Caps, and it put them in position to clinch in Game 6 at the Capital Centre tomorrow night.
"Dino has played great in the last two games," Washington coach Terry Murray said. "They really complement each other, [Dale] Hunter, [Dave] Tippett and Ciccarelli. They feed off the same kind of things -- playing in a lot of heavy traffic, playing down in front of the net and in the corners. They create a lot of energy for themselves and for their line mates."
Like Murray, Ciccarelli credited Khristich -- who did not play a particularly sparkling game -- with helping score the goal.
"I think Khristich made a little pick for me," Ciccarelli said, "which enabled me to me to take a few steps out in front of the net.
"I just wanted to get it on the net. I think Richter may have thought I was passing, because he lifted up his stick a little bit."
Washington's style of play extended a pattern for the series. The Caps twice have trailed by a game. Then they fell behind three times last night. But they get tenacious, a trait that shows when they attack.
"They are very tenacious when they come to the net," New York defenseman Joe Cirella said. "They kept coming to the net all night."
New York benched Troy Mallette and kept John Ogrodnick out with a knee injury. In their place were Amonte and Rice.
Capitals vs. Rangers
(Capitals lead, 3-2) Game 1 -- Rangers 2, Capitals 1
Game 2 -- Capitals 3, Rangers 0
Game 3 -- Rangers 6, Capitals 0
Game 4 -- Capitals 3, Rangers 2
Last night -- Caps 5, Rangers 4, OT
Tomorrow -- At Capitals, 7:35 p.m.
Monday -- At Rangers, 7:35 p.m.*
* if necessary