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Rally puts Washington in next round

Washington Capitals center Sergei Fedorov (center) celebrates with teammates Alex Ovechkin (left) and Viktor Kozlov following his go-ahead goal against the New York Rangers in Washington on Tuesday.

Washington Capitals center Sergei Fedorov (center) celebrates with teammates Alex Ovechkin (left) and Viktor Kozlov following his go-ahead goal against the New York Rangers in Washington on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON – Thanks to sage, old Sergei Fedorov and a kid goalie with more career starts in the NHL postseason than the regular season, the Washington Capitals are headed to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

And they didn’t even need a star turn from Alex Ovechkin to complete their monumental comeback Tuesday night.

Fedorov beat Henrik Lundqvist with 4:59 left in the third period, rookie Simeon Varlamov was good in the net when he had to be, and the second-seeded Capitals edged the No. 7 New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

“Experience sometimes pays off. He knew what he had to do, when to do it,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said about Fedorov. “That’s what makes him one of the greatest ever.”

Washington is the 21st team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1.

It’s Washington’s first series victory since the 1997-98 season, when it reached the Stanley Cup finals. The success must feel particularly sweet to reigning league MVP Ovechkin and the 15 other players on the Capitals a year ago, when they also trailed 3-1 in the first round, and also forced a Game 7 at home – only to lose to Philadelphia in overtime.

Silent for stretches, even booing when the Capitals were tentative in the second period, the red-clad fans were loud as could be after Fedorov’s goal. Capitals players said their ears were ringing a half-hour afterward.

“They’ve really supported us,” Capitals general manager George McPhee said. “You can’t just have good seasons and not win in the playoffs.”

Still, the postgame celebration was kept to a minimum.

“We have to try to keep our emotions,” Ovechkin said, “and get ready for the next round.”

Oh, and what a matchup that will be. The Capitals will host Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in Game 1 of a series pitting the past two NHL MVPs.

Carolina slips past Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – The Carolina Hurricanes stole their first-round series from New Jersey with one of the greatest last-minute comebacks in NHL history.

Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal scored in a 48-second span late in the third period as the Hurricanes stunned the Devils 4-3 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference series.

“This is as sweet as it comes,” said goaltender Cam Ward, who kept the Hurricanes in the game in the final 25 minutes. “What a finish. How quickly things can change. That’s why you never give up and play until the final buzzer.”

It was the second shocking loss for the Devils in the series. They lost Game 4 on a goal by Jokinen with 0.2 second to play.

This time they gave away the series in the final 1:20.

“They scored two goals in the final two minutes of a hockey game to win it,” Devils center John Madden said. “I will never forget it.”

Jokinen tied it after taking a great cross-ice setup by Joni Pitkanen. Staal then buried the Devils with a shot from the middle of the right circle after a rush up the ice with 31.7 seconds left.

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