Rangers defeat Flyers, head to Philly with 3-2 lead
April 27, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
NHL PRESS RELEASE
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers moved one game from a spot in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series.
Marc Staal, Brad Richards, Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle had goals, and Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves as the Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. The Rangers can advance with a win in Game 6 on Tuesday in Philadelphia. Game 7, if necessary, would be Wednesday in New York.
The Rangers haven't won a series in fewer than seven games since beating the New Jersey Devils in five games in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. And three of their past five series have gone seven games, with a fourth going six. Though a long playoff run never is easy, ending series as early as possible always is a good thing.
"We have to match [Philadelphia's] intensity," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said of his team's mindset for Game 6. "They're going to be very desperate. They're going to be on the brink of elimination. We have to be ready for everything they got."
It was another dominant defensive effort from the Rangers. They've allowed the Flyers an average of 24.6 shots per game, the fewest in the League. And they blocked 12 shots, running their total for the series to 90.
"I think we're just working as five-man units in our end and in the offensive zone and the neutral zone," Girardi said. "Just kind of playing together, not letting them get any odd man rushes, 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s. Our forwards are tracking back real well so we can make them stand up and dump all the pucks. We're trying to get that puck as fast as we can out of our zone when they dump it in."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said the strong defensive play so far has been the result of doing the same things all season that helped the team be successful to this point.
"It's trying to put pressure in certain areas that enable us to get the puck back in their zone and in the neutral zone," he said.
The Rangers also were effective in the offensive end.
Staal scored 11:53 into the game to open the scoring. His shot off a set-up in the left circle by Martin St. Louis went off the shaft of the stick of Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and fluttered under Mason's blocker. It was Staal's first playoff goal since May 6, 2012, and marked the fourth straight game in the series the Rangers scored the game's first goal.
"It's frustrating," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. "You're always playing catch-up. You make it a lot harder on yourself. You're skating that much harder to get on pucks, to create turnovers, to get chances, instead of playing comfortable. It's a lot easier when you've got a lead."
New York made it 2-0 at 8:07 of the second when Brad Richards scored his second of the playoffs off a play that started as a 4-on-2 Rangers rush. And Moore made it 3-0 when he forced Coburn into a defensive-zone turnover when his pass went off the skates of Hal Gill. Moore pounced on the loose puck in the slot and beat Mason from in close at 16:20.
The Flyers finally broke through the Rangers' aggression at each end of the ice when Lecavalier scored a power-play goal with 32.6 seconds remaining in the second. His shot from the right side of the New York zone went off Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein and past Lundqvist for Lecavalier's first playoff goal since May 17, 2011, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Philadelphia cut the deficit to 3-2 when Giroux scored his first of the postseason on a shot from the left circle with 1:29 remaining in the third period that was aided by a Wayne Simmonds screen. However that was all Philadelphia could get despite pulling Mason for an extra attacker for the final three minutes of the game.
Boyle closed the game with an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining.
Despite their series deficit, the Flyers don't lack for confidence. They have shown resiliency all season, whether it was making the playoffs after a 1-7-0 start or their 11 wins when trailing at any point in the third period of a game during the regular season.
"This series is definitely not over," Mason said. "We're looking forward to going home and having a big game there and bringing it back here for Game 7."
That's why the Rangers know they have to raise their level of play even higher if they want to close the series Tuesday.
"You're going to have to two teams," Vigneault said. "One team that wants to keep playing and one team that would rather be able to get it done right away. ... We're going to try to continue to play the way we've played. They're going to try to put their best game on the ice, we're going to try to put our best game on the ice."