After taking a three-games-to-two series lead on Sunday afternoon, all the Rangers spoke about since was how they needed to show a killer instinct and put away the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Six Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center and thus avoid a decisive Game Seven the following evening at Madison Square Garden.
However the Rangers actions did not back up their words Tuesday as they suffered their worst defeat in the series, falling to the Flyers 5-2. The winner take all, do or die, Game Seven will now take place Wednesday night at 7:00 PM at The Garden, where the Rangers have won twice in three tries in this series against the Flyers.
Philly's Wayne Simmonds recorded a Hat Trick, with two of his goals coming on the power play, to pace the Flyers on Tuesday. Goaltender Steve Mason stopped 34 of 36 shots, and the Flyers--after a fairly shaky first period--settled in and took it to the Rangers with a decisive three-goal second period to back up their own confident pre-game words.
The Flyers survived a first period in which they often handled the puck like a live grenade because Mason stopped all 13 shots he faced and Simmonds scored on the power play to give the home team an extremely important 1-0 lead. Things then unraveled in the second period for New York when Simmonds scored again just 92 seconds into the period, setting the visitors back on their heels. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson scored on a breakaway after a failed Rangers power play at 14:17 and Simmonds made it rain hats inside the deafening building with his third of the game at 15:19.
Down 4-0 and facing Game Seven in less than 24 hours, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault replaced Henrik Lundqvist with Cam Talbot to start the third period. Lundqvist faced 23 shots and made 19 saves over 40 minutes of work, much of it without the stout defensive play in front of his net which he had become accustomed from his teammates.
The Rangers thought they had snapped Mason's shutout bid 4:59 into the third period when the fourth line found a way to sneak the puck past him. However the goal was immediately waved off by the on ice officials; and video review upheld the No Goal call when it was ruled Brian Boyle had punched the puck into the net with his gloved hand.
Carl Hagelin nearly scored 10:33 into the final period on a shorthanded breakaway, but his rising snap shot was gloved down by Mason, who displayed tremendous confidence and a terrific glove hand throughout Game Six on Tuesday.
Hagelin finally got the Rangers on the board three minutes later, potting a rebound of an Anton Stralman shot with 6:34 remaining to play. It was his second goal of the series.
With 4:38 remaining Vigneault pulled Talbot for an extra atacker, but 11 seconds later Claude Giroux iced the victory for the Flyers by scoring into the empty net.
Mats Zuccarello beat Mason from in close with 56.5 seconds to play, his second of the playoffs.
In the opening period the Rangers could rue missed opportunities as their outstanding forecheck drove the Flyers crazy and created a string of turnovers by the home team and scoring chances for the visitors, but yielded not a single goal. In the second period the Rangers lost nearly all of the battles as the Flyers grew in confidence and imposed their physical will all over the ice.
Again special teams played a big role in the Flyers success. Philly was 2-for-3 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. The Flyers now have 20 consecutive kills in this series, and New York is just 3-for-28 on the power play in this series.