Rangers Push Flyers to the Brink
After a game two victory, what seemed like an overplayed narrative of being unable to competently play at Madison Square Garden seemed to be vanquished by a 4-2, come-from-behind win. That storyline returned in full force after Sunday.
Heavily outpossessed and outchanced, the Philadelphia Flyers dropped game five 4-2 to the New York Rangers, giving Broadway the 3-2 edge over Broad Street in the series.
A lacking power play ruined any continuity the Flyers could have possibly constructed. Rangers forward Carl Hagelin took two penalties in two consecutive shifts to open the game. The result of those power plays was complete disaster.
"We lost the game in the first period," head coach Craig Berube told reporters. "It was all about execution."
Execution was nowhere to be found up a man. Zone entries, fumbled. Point pinches, failed. Shots, to a minimum. The Flyers ended up scoring one late second period power play goal on a blast from Vincent Lecavalier. It proved to be just one goal in five opportunities.
The Rangers, after being shut down by Steve Mason in game four, dissolved that doubt in game five.
Marc Staal jumped into the rush and opened the scoring on a drop pass from Martin St. Louis. While he disappointed in the regular season, St. Louis has scored a team-high six points.
Brad Richards popped a puck in on the backhand after a scrum in front of Mason to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Just seconds previous, Flyers forwards had a similar chance on Henrik Lundqvist that they could not cash in upon. Richards made them pay, putting the game in further doubt.
Braydon Coburn victimized Hal Gill with a pass that got caught in Gill's skates. Dominic Moore pounced, burying a short side wrist shot past Mason to make the Rangers' lead three goals.
Gill dressed for just the seventh time this season. He finished the night -2 with a shot on goal in 12 minutes of ice time, replacing Nicklas Grossmann.
"I think we were a little too sloppy," Andrew MacDonald said. "We weren't making strong plays or good decisions consistently enough and it cost us."
Captain Claude Giroux, silent in the scoring department seemingly all series, ripped a wrist shot past Lundqvist for his first goal with just 90 seconds remaining and Mason on the bench for the extra attacker.
Mason remained on the bench on the Flyers' next offensive foray. Giroux dumped the puck into the zone while Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, steps behind the blue line on the forecheck, could not catch up to Dan Girardi behind the net. Girardi fed Moore, who then gave the puck up to Brian Boyle, who sealed the deal.
"Game six is going to be huge and we're not looking at it like it's the last game of the season," Giroux said of the looming deficit. "We've come back all season long when it matters and we have to stay confident about that."
While the Rangers only blocked 12 shots in this contest, compared to the staggering 28 they blocked in game three, any offense felt like an uphill battle. The Flyers outshot the Rangers 26-22, and had several scoring opportunities, but execution continued to fail them repeatedly.
"We're confident because we all know we can play better," Berube said. "It's a tight series between two good teams. It's right there."
Wells Fargo Center will be the battleground for a season at stake. Should they hold serve, they will have to return to this house of horrors once more.