New York Rangers (45-31-6) at Philadelphia Flyers (42-30-10)
|Date & Time||Tuesday April 22, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Philadelphia Flyers -125 / New York Rangers +105 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
On Sunday afternoon in Game 2 the New York Rangers seemed to pick up exactly where they left off after a dominating performance in the series' first game. New York came out and fended off an initial surge from the Philadelphia Flyers, then capitalized on a neutral zone turnover. Rick Nash took the puck and skated it over the blue line, making a pass to the middle of the ice and Derek Stepan, who then found Martin St. Louis on the right side for a one timer that beat Ray Emery for an early 1-0 lead. Later in the period on their second man advantage the Rangers found the back of the net again when Benoit Pouliot's flubbed shot fooled Emery and put New York up 2-0. It was another sky is falling moment for the Flyers who had lost nine straight games at Madison Square Garden heading into Sunday's contest. Instead of packing up and heading back to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Tuesday night, the Flyers fought back with Jakub Voracek leading the way. Voracek took a flip pass up the right boards and skated his way past New York's Ryan McDonagh. It appeared as if McDonagh was reluctant to take a penalty and did his best to to knock the puck off of Voracek's stick at the last minute. McDonagh did make contact with the puck but Voracek held on and went across the goal crease, stuffing the puck in the only opening Henrik Lundqvist between his right skate and the post. It was a huge goal for the Flyers who still trailed after one period of play, but clearly had some momentum fror the first time in the series. The odd part about this game is that the second period is where it was decided, and it was New York's best period of the game. The Rangers generated numerous scoring chances, recording 17 shots in the period, but Emery was phenomenal and stopped everything thrown his way. Philadelphia's Jason Akeson atoned for his penalty from Game 1 by burying a rebound with the Flyers on the power play and later in the frame it was Luke Schenn following up on the play who tapped home a rebound with a delayed penalty on the way for Philadelphia. The results was a 3-2 lead for the Flyers despite being outshot 17-9 and having to rely on their goaltender to make some really big saves. In the third period it was a Philadelphia team that was saw take zero chances, doing everything in their power to protect their one goal lead. They limited New York to just seven third period shots and Wayne Simmonds' empty net goal gave the Flyers a 4-2 win and a 1-1 series tie heading back to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. It wasn't the most deserving win but for a Philadelphia club that was fighting off a lot of demons in that building on Sunday it was still a win. It gives the Flyers home ice advantage against a team that was extremely good at winning on the road this year, so games three and four won't be any easier. Steve Mason has been ruled out for Game 3 of this series as well, and with the way Emery is playing one might wonder if they're both trying to buy Mason some extra time to recover as well as ride the hot hand. If Emery puts in another performance like that one on Tuesday night it's going to be hard to go back to Mason at this point regardless of his health for Game 4.
These two teams are so evenly matched that a lot of these games will be determined by an individual play or an individual players. Voracek settled the tide for the Flyers on Sunday with his goal and Emery took over from there. Back in front of their home crowd the Flyers are going to do everything in their power to play their style of hockey, draw power play opportunities, and try and jump out to an early lead. Lundqvist wasn't terrible on Sunday but for Rangers fans to have to watch their team lose what amounted to a one goal game because Emery outdueled him on his home ice, it's a tough one to stomach. The Rangers are one of the best road teams in the league and Sunday's loss doesn't do much to rattle their confidence in the series but more just amounts to disappointment for a club that has absolutely no success at taking a two game lead in a playoff series over the years. New York will have their own opportunity to take home ice advantage back with a win in Game 3 or 4. Philadelphia should have the edge early on in this game but if Lundqvist can make some saves and keep his club in it I like the Rangers to bounce back.