So, where shall we begin?

Ultimately, the only thing about this game that matters was the final score, with the Washington Capitals defeating the New York Rangers 4-3 more than halfway through the second overtime period to take a three games to one lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semi-final matchup.

But man, how they got there?  That will be the stuff of legends and lifetime memories.

In the second extra stanza, with legs getting heavy and shifts shortening, Jason Chimera collected a drop pass from Player of the Game Marcus Johansson at the blue line and flicked a shot toward veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist that was blocked by defenseman Bryan McCabe but still made it to the top of the crease.

But as Lundqvist (49 saves) went to cover, Rangers forward Marian Gaborik tried to deflect the puck behind the net instead and wound up hitting Chimera right in the chest with it. Once the puck fell to the ice, the speedy winger jammed it home behind a prone Lundqvist to end the Capitals fifth longest game in their 37-year history.

That goal ended a remarkable comeback that was necessary because of a period of incredible futility and ineptitude, followed by an equally amazing period of hard work, perseverance and dedication.

After playing to a scoreless tie in the first period, which amounted to little more than a "feeling out" period for both teams, the Caps played their worst period of hockey since the days of the December losing streak in the second period, allowing three straight Rangers goals -- the last two coming seven seconds apart -- and looked for the world to be beaten, broken and defeated.

Washington was completely overwhelmed by the Rangers physicality in the frame, and by the time the period was over, the Caps looked like they were standing around waiting to be hit again.

But whomever gave the speech in the locker room during the second intermission certainly said all the right things.

With just 2:47 gone in the third period, Alexander Semin used great anticipation to intercept a poor clearing pass from Ryan McDonagh, fired on a surprised Henrik Lundqvist, and jammed home a loose puck the normally sure-handed goalie should have covered, triggering an epic third period comeback that included a pair of Marcus Johansson goals and forcing a stunned and tiring Rangers team to overtime.

It should be noted that three of the four Capitals goals came with the goal scorer having at least one foot in the paint, and the other was a deflection off the goal scorer's body camped in the crease.  Greasy goals.  Playoff goals.

Both teams had golden opportunities in the first extra frame, most notably Alex Ovechkin breaking in on Lundqvist alone, only to be stoned, and Marian Gaborik's wrister from the high slot that was calmly gloved by Michal Neuvirth (36 saves).

No, one overtime was not enough.  A comeback that stunning needed the drama of the second overtime period.

It shouldn't have come to that.  The Rangers had the Capitals right where they wanted them after the second period, on the scoreboard, on the ice and in the stands.  The raucous Madison Square Garden crowd was having a field day with Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who earlier in the week had some pointed comments about the quality of the accommodation at the fabled arena, and some not-so-veiled jabs at the legions of Rangers fans, saying "It's not so loud in there."

Well, the chants of "Boo-dreau" and "Can You Hear Us?" were plenty loud enough, prompting Boudreau after the game to say that maybe he should have kept quiet about matters not directly related to the game.  But three third period goals silenced the MSG faithful, and after the dagger in the second overtime, you could hear the plaster dropping from the leaky ceiling in the dilapidated building that will be undergoing a $900 million face lift the next couple of years.

Momentum is a funny thing.  Had the Rangers held on to win and even this series, the Caps would have had to limp home and think about the nauseating way they allowed an inferior team to take control of things after achieving a two-games-to-none lead and then frittering it away.  Instead, after the ridiculous comeback-to-win-in-two-overtimes thriller, it's the Rangers that will brood for two days, mulling what could have, should have been.

The Capitals now have an opportunity to exorcise so many demons at once on Saturday, in front of their home crowd, on a night where the Verizon Center should tremble with excitement. 

Boudreau's message to his troops for Game Five should be simple: Take nothing for granted, earn everything, go to the net, work hard.  Just like in the third period of Game Four.



3. Marco Sturm.  Plus-1, six hits.  Thought he played his best game as a Capital.
2. Jason Chimera.  Game-winning goal.  His speed was a force in overtime when Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were noticeably gassed.
1. Marcus Johansson.  Two goals. Should have had an assist on Chimera's game-winner.  Plus-3.  Only drawback was in face off dot (6of-17).  But he was the best player on the ice last night.

CAPS NOTES:  Alex Ovechkin was minus-2 for the night, and was not particularly effective for long stretches of this game.  He had four shots on goal, but missed on four and had six blocked.

John Carlson was also minus-2, and was a spectator on the second and third Rangers goals.  But he fired the shot from the point that deflected on Johansson to tie the game and as poorly as he played in the second, that's how good he was in the third and overtime.

Alexander Semin led the Caps with seven shots on goal and really was a presence every time he had the puck.  Matt Bradley was credited for seven hits in just 10:59 to pace the Caps in that department.

The two teams combined for 120 hits and 92 shots on goal.