NEW YORK -- Before last Wednesday's epic triple-overtime win over the Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers had lost seven consecutive playoff overtime games.

After Marian Gaborik removed the monkey from the Blueshirts' back in that game, it's nowhere to be found.

On Monday, New York's Brad Richards scored with 6.6 seconds left in the third period to send the game into overtime, and Marc Staal scored with 1:35 gone in overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 win and a 3-2 advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinal series. The win pushes the Capitals to the brink of elimination, making Wednesday night's Game 6 at the Verizon Center a must-win if their season is to continue.

"It's not over yet," Washington captain Alexander Ovechkin said. "Somebody had to win and somebody had to lose. Unfortunately it was so close, but not close enough."

Staal's goal was a power-play tally, a high shot from the point that eluded Capitals' netminder Braden Holtby, who all but carried Washington into the extra session and was named the game's Third Star after recording 35 saves.

"Both guys kind of came out," Staal said, referring to Washington's Matt Hendricks and Brooks Laich, "so I just wanted to get between them and hit it as hard as I can, and I think it ended up going off one of them and into the back of the net."

For a long time, it appeared that Holtby would steal the win after John Carlson gave Washington a 2-1 lead with 14:20 to play in the third period, but Richards scored a power-play goal with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and set up Staal's heroics.

"The power play is the power play," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said. "It gets streaky. We end up scoring two at the end, where we've had problems with their pressure. We're trying to sort it out."

Richards' fifth goal of the playoffs -- a gritty effort at the front of the net -- elicited an exultant roar from the Madison Square Garden crowd, who went into the final seconds fearing that Holtby would steal a win for his team. The Blueshirts, however, would not be denied.

Following a sluggish start in Saturday's Game 4 in Washington, the Rangers attacked with vigor to open the game, logging eight of the first nine shots on goal. It was a seemingly harmless shot, however, that did the damage, as Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman scored his third goal of the playoffs. Stralman's shot from the hash marks along the right-wing boards evaded Holtby, slipping in to the bottom left corner of the net to give the Rangers the lead 10:44 into the game.

The Capitals tied it 8:15 into the second period with the second goal of the playoffs for Brooks Laich. Rangers center Brian Boyle looked to break up a centering pass from Ovechkin, but wound up slowing the puck down for Laich, who caught up to the puck in the slot and blasted it past Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist for the equalizer.

The Capitals took the lead 4:20 into the final period on a goal by Carlson. With Mike Rupp in the penalty box for hooking and Rangers captain Ryan Callahan skating without a stick, Carlson's shot from the point on the power play made it through traffic and beat Lundqvist to put Washington ahead.

With the lead gained, the Capitals went into lockdown mode, playing the hard-nosed defensive style that the team has come to embody under head coach Dale Hunter. The Rangers pulled Lundqvist for the extra skater with a minute and a half remaining, but it was Joel Ward's double-minor for high-sticking with 21.3 seconds left that gave the Rangers the advantage they needed.

"It was an accident," Hunter said. "It was a high stick. That's the breaks of the hockey game. They got a break."