Derek Stepan made a crisp pass out of his end to Kreider. Capitals defenseman Mike Green aborted a trip to the bench and raced to get back into position, but Kreider ripped a drive past Holtby before Green could stop him.
"We need to be more aggressive," Green said. "We were a little bit on our heels."
Kreider changed his game plan because he was at the end of an exhausting shift.
"There was an opening, so I thought I'd hit it, and Stepan made a nice pass," he said. "The minute I got it, I would usually try to take that to the net, but I had to pull up since I was so tired. I was just trying to get it on net."
Holtby said he was fooled by Kreider's release on the shot.
Then Kreider foiled the Capitals with a pass.
Richards dived to keep the puck in the Washington end at the left point and then took a feed from Kreider from along the side boards. Richards made a shifty move in front of Holtby and put a shot past him to make it 3-1.
Washington nearly got that one back, but Green's long drive was deflected by teammate Nicklas Backstrom off the post soon after.
The Capitals had grabbed momentum with only 5.1 seconds left in the second period and silenced the rocking crowd when Chimera took a cross-crease pass from Brooks Laich and deftly sneaked the puck between Lundqvist's pads.
Chimera has quieted the Garden crowd before. He netted the winning goal in double overtime of last year's Game 4 that gave the Capitals a 3-1 series lead en route to a victory in five games. His latest goal knocked out the remaining buzz created by Anisimov's series-opening tally with 7:22 remaining in the second.
"That could have hurt us big time, but we came in here, regrouped, talked about staying patient and just let the game come to us," Lundqvist said. "Coming from that Game 7, such an emotional and big win, it was important for us to regroup and start all over. This team doesn't give up much so we have to be smart with pucks. They kind of wait for mistakes, so the key for us is not to make too many."
Anisimov's goal was reminiscent of the one scored by Stephane Matteau that ended the 1994 Eastern Conference finals against New Jersey, the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. Matteau was in attendance Saturday and was shown on the center ice video board - flashing his championship ring - just moments before Anisimov made it 1-0.
NOTES: New York has won Game 1 in five of its past eight series. The Rangers are 31-11 when winning the opener, including six of the past seven. ... The Rangers managed only eight shots through two periods, compared to 13 for Washington, and just three were recorded by forwards. ... Eminger, who logged 4:25 of ice time in four shifts, missed the previous 19 games because of an injury sustained on March 15 against Pittsburgh. ... Washington won three road games in its first-round series against Boston. All seven games of that series were decided by one goal.
PHT: The Bruins got goals from Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron, and their smothering defense helped Tuukka Rask pitch a shutout, as Boston took a 2-1 series lead.
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