Flyers rally to beat Rangers, even first-round series
This win was three years in the making for backup goalie Ray Emery and the rest of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Emery stood in again for injured No. 1 netminder Steve Mason and made 31 saves to help the Flyers rally from an early two-goal deficit and beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Sunday to even the first-round playoff series.
The Flyers had lost nine straight at Madison Square Garden, including 4-1 in the series opener on Thursday, since their last win there on Feb. 20, 2011. Emery hadn’t won a postseason game anywhere in exactly three years for Anaheim at Nashville.
"I try to stay even-keeled, whether it’s going well or you don’t get off to the start you want," the 31-year-old Emery said. "I play with a system in there, and I just kind of rely on that. I’ve had leads before and I’ve been down before so it’s just kind of a consistent approach."
Luke Schenn scored the go-ahead goal in the second period after Jakub Voracek and Jason Akeson got the Flyers even at 2. Wayne Simmonds sealed the win with a power-play, empty-net goal.
Now the Flyers head home, where they went 2-0 against the Rangers in the regular season. Game 3 is on Tuesday.
Philadelphia no longer has to hear about its skid in New York in which the Flyers were outscored 35-10 and never had more than two goals in any game.
"That’s a huge weight off our shoulders, to come in here and get the split," Schenn said. "Going back home, we feel a bit better about ourselves."
Voracek brought the Flyers within 2-1 in the first after Martin St. Louis and Benoit Pouliot staked New York to its lead. Emery did the rest, looking especially sharp in the second and third periods.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots after a 14-save winning effort in the opener.
"They came back pretty strong late in the first, and then in the second period a lot better," Lundqvist said. "Going into the third we felt confident we could tie it.
The tide turned in the second when the Flyers caught up and went ahead despite being outshot 17-9.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault called that period his team’s best of the day.
"The game can be funny sometimes," he said. "We had some Grade A chances. Our power play had some great looks. They scored two and we didn’t."
Akeson tied it with a power-play goal 5:45 in off a rebound of Brayden Schenn’s shot for his second career NHL tally.
It was a day of redemption for the 23-year-old Akeson, playing his fourth NHL game. His double high-sticking penalty in Game 1 led to two Rangers goals that turned a 1-1 game into a 3-1 deficit in the third.
Flyers coach Craig Berube didn’t consider benching him for Game 2.
"Should I sit out everybody that takes a penalty?" Berube asked. "I understand he took a four-minute penalty, but he played well. It was a mistake, and you have to learn from them. He’s a good player."
Philadelphia grabbed its second lead of the series with 8:42 left in the second during a delayed penalty. Michael Raffl brought the puck in on the right side and got it to Adam Hall for a shot. Luke Schenn then put in the rebound.
The Rangers’ chance for a comeback was thwarted by a penalty for too many men with 1:18 left that led to Simmonds’ goal with 25.4 seconds remaining.
Unlike in Game 1, the Flyers had the puck much more often and did a better job of closing off the Rangers’ passing lanes after the early deficit.
However, they continued their undisciplined ways that cost them in the opener. The Flyers killed their first penalty after Simmonds held Ryan McDonagh in the offensive zone at 1:04, but they allowed one power-play goal and were short-handed three times in the first.
Overall, the Flyers killed five of six power plays.
New York took a 1-0 lead at 4:08 after a crisp passing sequence. Rick Nash came in with speed on the left side and moved the puck into the middle to Derek Stepan, who sent a pass into the right circle to St. Louis for a one-timer he punctuated with a fist pump.
St. Louis, who had only one goal and seven assists with the Rangers in 19 regular-season games after being acquired from Tampa Bay, scored at the Garden for the first time since the trade for former captain Ryan Callahan. St. Louis has a goal and two assists in this series.
The Rangers made it 2-0 at 8:22 with their third power-play goal in two games.
More precision passing in the Philadelphia end by Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard set up another one-timer from the right side, this time by Pouliot, who got enough of the puck to put it past Emery.
The Flyers got one back on a strong move by Voracek, who skated around defenseman Ryan McDonagh on the backhand and tucked in a forehand with 5:46 left.
NOTES: Emery is 21-16 in career playoff games. . . . Akeson’s only other goal was scored April 23, 2013, at Ottawa. . . . The Rangers had two potential power plays negated by embellishment calls.