Rangers beat Flyers 4-1, take 2-1 series lead

The Rangers (2-1) defeated the Philadelphia Flyers (1-2) by a score of 4-1.  For the scoring report, see the image below courtesy of NHL.com. Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, the Rangers took 23 shots on goal.

game 3 phi

1st Period- The Flyers had the early edge, feeding off the momentum from the crowd.  The Rangers were able to settle down and play their game, which led to an early goal for the second straight game.  The Flyers turned it over to St. Louis at the blue line who gave it to Rick Nash.  Nash threw the puck on goal from a bad angle and the rebound went right to Stepan who fired it in.  About halfway through the period Rick Nash was strong with the puck and got it out to Girardi who took a hard, low shot which was deflected in by St. Louis.  The Rangers had the momentum, but eventually gave it away after Pouliot negated a Rangers powerplay for the second time in the period with an irresponsible offensive zone penalty.  During the 4-on-4 McDonagh was tangled up with Giroux and fell down, which led to a 3-on-1 for the Flyers and Streit shot it past Lundqvist.  The Rangers were able to hold off a strong push from the Flyers at the end of the period to keep the score 2-1.

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Preview: Rangers Look to Regain Series Lead in Philly

The Rangers take on the Flyers tonight at 8:00 for Game 3 of their Metropolitan Division semifinals series.

The Flyers leveled the series 1-1 Sunday afternoon after coming back from a 2-0 1st period lead. The Rangers put 33 shots on the Flyers’ net, compared to 25 the Flyers put on their own. Ray Emery stopped 31 of them, however, propelling the Flyers to victory.

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The Importance of Closing Early Series Quickly

Way back in 2011-12, the Rangers squeaked by their opponents in the first two rounds, winning both series in seven games. People were quick to point out that no team that won both their Conference Quarterfinal and Conference Semifinal series in seven games has never advanced to the Cup Finals, let alone won the Cup.

Since the NHL changed it’s playoff format to include four rounds of seven-game series, nine teams (including the 2011-12 Rangers) have won the first two rounds in seven games. It’s a tiny sample size, but the odds of all nine of them losing, all things being equal, is only 0.195%, so it appears to be significant.

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Will Jesper Fast Play in Game 3?

Game 3 goes tomorrow in Philadelphia and coach Vigneault says he’s considering lineup changes for the pivotal game. I suspect he’s considering lifting Fast from the lineup.

Jesper Fast took his spot to the right of Richards and Hagelin at even-strength for the line’s first two shifts of the third period, but Rick Nash assumed that spot for the next two shifts.

Fast missed a team skate prior to Game 2, but he did play the last half minute of the game after Philadelphia’s empty-net goal, so his missed shifts do not appear to be injury-related.

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Callahan, Lightning Go Down 3-0 to Canadiens

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens tonight, putting themselves in a 3-0 series deficit. Now any hopes of the Lightning advancing their quest for he Stanley Cup requires four straight wins over the team that just bested them in three straight.

The series has implications to the Rangers: as part of the Callahan-St. Louis trade is a condition that will see the Rangers get the Lightning’s 2015 2nd round pick should Callahan re-sign with the club. The Rangers would send their 2015 7th round pick to Tampa Bay in the exchange.

The match between Callahan and the Lightning has been blissful to this point. But as nothing can endear a player to a team (and vice versa) like a long playoff run, nothing can drive a team to changes like a quick playoff exit. Callahan is without a point in three games for the Lightning so far in the playoffs.

Rangers Blow Two-Goal Lead as Flyers Tie Series at 1

Despite taking an early 2-0 lead, the Rangers surrendered 4 unanswered goals to the Flyers in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden, tying the series at 1 game apiece heading to Philadelphia. Similar to the first game of this series, the Rangers won the possession battle, this time with a 59.7 CF% at Even Strength, but Game 2 ultimately proved different as the Rangers were unable to turn that advantage into a victory.  Read more

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