Sunday, April 20, 2014

Flyers even series with Rangers after another strong Easter showing


New York, NY -- Echoes of an Easter Sunday on the road in the first round three years ago rang throughout the center of Manhattan. 

While Game 6 of the Eastern quarterfinals in Buffalo had more riding on it, and Ville Leino's OT winner evened the series and sent it back home for a decisive Game 7, this afternoon's victory was just as sweet.

Luke Schenn netted the game-winner with 7:42 remaining in the second period, as Philadelphia reeled off four unanswered goals to claim a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series from Madison Square Garden.

After dropping Game 1 by a 4-1 margin, the Flyers fell behind 2-0 in the first period Sunday before roaring back to even this best-of-seven set at one game apiece.

Jakub Voracek, Jason Akeson and Wayne Simmonds each scored once, while Ray Emery, starting back-to-back games for the first time all season, stopped 31 shots for the Flyers, who snapped a nine-game losing skid at MSG.

"We just stuck with it and kept working and I think that's why we won the game," Voracek said. "After we got scored on, I think we were the better team."

Emery got the nod in net again with Steve Mason still recovering from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him since April 12, and participated in back-to-back games for the first time all season.

Martin St. Louis and Benoit Pouliot potted a goal apiece, while Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals on 24 shots for the Rangers, who went 1-for-6 on the power play and allowed the Flyers to score on two of their three chances on the man advantage.

"Our power play had some great looks and they scored two and we didn't," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault remarked. "At the end of the night that was the game."

The series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Tuesday.

Though the deciding goal didn't come on a power play, it did come during a delayed penalty against the Rangers, which allowed the Flyers to get an extra attacker on the ice as they made their way into the New York zone.

Michael Raffl carried the disc through the neutral zone and across the blue line before touching it ahead to Adam Hall, who threw the puck on net from the low right side as he was checked to the ice.  Lundqvist sticked away the initial opportunity, but the rebound squirted into the slot, where Schenn swatted it home with a backhand for a 3-2 lead.

Emery made the lead stand up from there, turning away all 17 shots he faced in the second before stopping seven more in the third to maintain Philadelphia's slim edge.

New York attempted to slip an extra attacker on the ice with just over two minutes on the clock, but Lundqvist failed to get to the bench before the extra skater entered play, resulting in a penalty on the Rangers for too many men on the ice.

Simmonds put the clincher into an empty net with the Flyers on the power play at 19:34 to account for the final margin. He began the sequence by winning a battle inside his own defensive zone, weaved to center near Emery, then dished off to Matt Read, who passed back to the feisty winger near center ice as he was marked by a Rangers' checker.

Early on, St. Louis opened the scoring 4:08 into the game when he finished a 3-on-2 rush with a one-timer from the low right circle. Derek Stepan had a prime chance to shoot in the slot, but instead dished off to the former Lightning standout to test Emery's lacking lateral motion.

After Philadelphia's Sean Couturier was sent off for roughing at 6:55, Pouliot doubled New York's lead with a one-timer from the right circle off a slick cross-ice feed from Derick Brassard to make it 2-0 at 8:22.

Voracek sliced the margin in half later in the frame, as he charged through the right circle and held off Ryan McDonagh before cutting in front and stuffing the puck past Lundqvist's outstretched right pad at 14:14.

Akeson, who was called for a costly four-minute double-minor that led to New York's go-ahead goal in Game 1, atoned for his mistake with the game-tying goal on the power play just under six minutes into the second. The recent AHL call-up ended his career with the Phantoms as its all-time leading scorer in Adirondack with 172 points, and collected his first NHL postseason score.

Just before Anton Stralman's interference minor expired, the diminutive winger picked up a blocked shot on the low left side and ripped the disc into the back of the net to tie the tilt at 5:45.

Notes: Prior to Sunday, Philly's last win at the World's Most Famous Arena came back on Feb. 20, 2011 ... The victory gave the Orange and Black six wins in the last seven playoff games in New York since April of 1987 ... Schenn also recorded his first career NHL playoff goal ... Eleven different Flyers recorded one point each ... Emery recorded his first playoff victory in exactly three years. His last came on April 20, 2011 for Anaheim at Nashville ... New York's Rick Nash recorded his second assist of the playoffs ...
St. Louis has a five-game playoff point streak against the Flyers, dating back to May 15, 2004 – Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals – when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring seven points 1G, 6A) over the span. He has recorded 10 points (2G, 8A) in nine career playoff games against Philadelphia.
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