The Philadelphia Flyers needed a win in the worst possible way on Sunday. They had lost nine consecutive games at Madison Square Garden and were facing the very real possibility of returning home in a 0-2 hole with a 10-game losing streak in New York.
The second game of the series has proven to be pivotal in Flyers franchise history as well. Regardless of the outcome of Game 1, the Flyers were 30-7 in series in which they won Game 2 but just 8-23 when losing the second game. In franchise history, Philadelphia is only 3-14 when falling behind 0-2 in a series.
Simply put, the Flyers needed a win.
It did not get off to a great start. Just four minutes into the game, Derek Stepan worked the puck to Martin St. Louis on an odd-man rush and St. Louis put home his first goal of the playoffs. St. Louis’ goal gave New York the 1-0 just 4:06 into the period.
After Sean Couturier was whistled for roughing, the Rangers went to work on their second power play of the game just 6:55 into the first period. Once again New York made the Flyers pay as Derrick Brassard got the pass to Benoit Pouliot who set up for the one-timer but didn’t get all of it. The big shot attempt but fluttering puck threw off Flyers goaltender Ray Emery and Pouliot’s “change-up” beat Emery to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead at the 8:22 mark.
Philadelphia was in a critical spot in the game. They were in hot water with the possibility of having Game 2 slip away from them early. They had two choices: fold up and hope for the best in Philadelphia or show some resiliency and fight back. They chose the latter.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first period, Claude Giroux carried the puck out of his own zone and passed to Scott Hartnell in the neutral zone. Hartnell flipped the puck along the boards to Jake Voracek who pick up speed chasing the puck. Voracek made an aggressive move towards the net with the puck and beat Henrik Lundqvist on a gorgeous goal to get the Flyers on the board.
In the second period, the Flyers looked like they relaxed and started playing their game. After Anton Stralman was sent to the box for interference, the Flyers power play went to work. After buzzing around the Ranger net for much of the power play, Vinny Lecavalier’s shot was stopped but Brayden Schenn somehow got the puck to Jason Akeson who had a wide open net and didn’t miss.
The unfair goat of Thursday night’s game came through in a big way to tie the game 2-2 for the Flyers.
Later in the period with a delayed penalty call coming, the Flyers raced up ice on the rush. Michael Raffl got the puck to Adam Hall who got off a tough-angled shot that was stopped by Lundqvist. Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn, who joined the rush when the delayed penalty took place, beat Mats Zuccarello to the rebound and put home his first career playoff goal that gave Philadelphia a 3-2 lead.
The third period was going to be telling about how resilient the Flyers will be the playoffs. Thursday night provided no reassurance the Flyers could fight back as they were outshot 13-1 in the third period and outscored 3-0 despite entering the period tied 1-1. Sunday’s third period needed to be better if they were going to even the series.
The Flyers continued to skate hard but, despite the effort, still gave New York a power play as Nicklas Grossmann was called for interference just 3:15 into the period. The Flyers killed it off thanks to a few big saves by Ray Emery and none bigger than his blocker save on Zuccarello just inside of the 15-minute mark.
After some confusion from the Rangers bench on whether or not to pull Henrik Lundqvist, the Flyers went on the power play with 1:19 remaining as New York was called for Too Many Men on the Ice. Wayne Simmonds, on a quasi-Herculean effort, sealed the game with an empty-net goal to put the Flyers up 4-2 with 26 seconds remaining.
As they had hoped, the Flyers third period effort was enough to win the game. They outshot the Rangers 8-7 for the first time in any period this series. It was exactly what they needed to give them another confidence boost heading home.
The victory gives the Flyers home-ice advantage now as the series essentially becomes the best-of-five with three games being played in Philadelphia.
The Flyers and Rangers get back at it on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center with the game slated to start at 8:00 pm.