The Rangers and Flyers met in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, and the Rangers drew first blood. New York scored three goals in the third period en route to their 4-1 win at MSG. Brad Richards had a fantastic night, notching a goal and two assists. Martin St. Louis had two assists. Carl Hagelin scored a goal and drew a four-minute high sticking penalty that the Rangers scored twice on. The fourth line did their thing, playing solid defense and stifling Claude Giroux and the high-powered Flyers offense.
Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make only 14 saves, with just one of those coming in the third period. The Rangers absolutely dominated the game, and Hank just had to sit back and make the saves when he had to. If the Rangers continue to play like this, it will be a short series.
On to the goals:
Flyers 1, Rangers 0
Scott Hartnell laid a big hit on Ryan McDonagh behind the net, knocking him off the puck and giving Hartnell room to look for a play. Hartnell got the puck to Andrew MacDonald at the point, who’s slap shot beat Hank through the combined screens of Giroux, St. Louis, Anton Stralman, and Wayne Simmonds. Not much of a defensive breakdown on this one.
Rangers 1, Flyers 1
The Rangers had a good cycle on this shift to generate some solid offensive opportunities. Marc Staal pinched on the near side to keep the zone, and Mats Zuccarello drifted back to cover the point. Benoit Pouliot collected the puck low and forced the play to the front of the net. Zucc was able to get a shot on net from the high slot that Emery stopped, but both Brayden Coburn and Sean Couturier let him go by to collect his own rebound for the tying goal.
Rangers 2, Flyers 1
Derek Stepan gained the zone, and after some quick passing, moved the puck to Nash down low. Coburn went to cover Nash, but Michael Raffl didn’t pay attention to MSL creeping in from the point. Nash got the puck to MSL for a one-timer that was blocked by Kimmo Timonen, but the rebound went right to Richards at the weak side that he ripped over Emery for the goal. This was the first of two goals scored on the Jason Akeson double-minor for high sticking Hagelin.
Rangers 3, Flyers 1
This goal, the second on the Akeson double-minor, was the product of superb puck movement. The Rangers got the Flyers running around, and no one picked up Stepan at the back door. Richards hit him with a beautiful pass, and Emery had no chance.
Rangers 4, Flyers 1
Right after the Flyers hit the post, the Rangers came down the ice on a 3-on-3 rush. Brayden Schenn fell down as the Rangers gained the zone, forcing Coburn to cover both Hagelin and Jesper Fast as they cut to the net. Richards’ shot was stopped by Emery, but he left an awful rebound that Hagelin was able to tap into the empty net.
The Rangers dominated this game. They had a 61.9% Fenwick advantage at 5v5 and a 56.6% Fenwick advantage at 5v5 close situations. That’s pretty much what you want to see from your team that dominated puck possession throughout the season.
Win Expectancy Chart:
Again, what you would expect from this game. Those two powerplay goals really put the Flyers away. Reminder that this chart is based on score, home ice, and time remaining.
The Rangers took the critical first game with a dominating performance, but need to build on this and put the Flyers away before they can make it a series. The longer that Steve Mason is out, the longer the Rangers have a significant advantage in net. While Mason is nowhere near Hank’s level, he is by far the better goalie over Emery. As long as Emery is in, the Rangers need to win.