This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. This wasn’t how any of this was supposed to go.
The Philadelphia Flyers opened their playoff series with the New York Rangers last night at Madison Square Garden. There were a few things the Flyers needed to make sure they had locked up, two of which being: falling behind early and the play of Ray Emery, who was in for the injured Steve Mason.
The two teams went back and forth in the beginning of the game as they both seemed to be trying to get their legs under them. The Flyers got a burst of energy when Scott Hartnell blasted Olympic defenseman Ryan McDonagh behind his own net and jarred the puck loose. Hartnell jumped on the loose puck and quickly fed Andrew MacDonald at the point.
The Flyers defenseman ripped a slap shot that hit a Ranger stick and beat New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to put the Philadelphia up 1-0.
It wouldn’t last long as the Rangers points’ leader Mats Zuccarello had his shot stopped by Emery at the other end just three and a half minutes later. Unfortunately, Zuccarello got his rebound and beat Emery five-hole to tie the game for the Rangers.
The second period came and went without any scoring but the Rangers were buzzing spending much of the period in the Flyers’ zone. The third period evened out a bit when one of those game-changing plays everyone talks about happened.
As the Flyers looked like they were beginning to spend some time in the Rangers zone, the puck worked its way to the neutral zone when Rangers forward Carl Hagelin took it up along the boards. Flyers rookie Jason Akeson went to hit Hagelin but lost his footing as he approached the Ranger and his stick came up and caught Hagelin in the face. It drew blood to send the Rangers on the power play for four minutes thanks to the double-minor for high-sticking.
New York did not waste any time working the puck around until, 47 seconds into the first minor, Brad Richards blasted a shot that beat Emery over his shoulder to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead while they still had two minutes of power play time to work with on the second minor.
Again, the Rangers got right to work. Flyers forward Adam Hall had a chance to clear the puck at the point but took the man instead. New York kept the puck in the zone and Richards got the puck down low to Derek Stepan who was left all alone to the right of Emery. Stepan had a wide-open net and he didn’t miss as he also scored 47 seconds into the second minor penalty.
With the Rangers leading 3-1, the Flyers still couldn’t get anything going offensively. Kimmo Timonen ripped a shot that beat Lundqvist but caught the post and bounced out. The Rangers took the puck back down the ice on the rush when Richards found Hagelin who beat Emery to make it 4-1 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
The Flyers were outshot 36-15 by the Rangers in the game. Perhaps the most startling statistic of the night is the Flyers disappearing act on offense in the third period. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the final period and New York outshot Philadelphia 13-1 and, ultimately, outscored them 3-0 in the frame.
The two teams get two days off before getting back at it Sunday at noon at Madison Square Garden.