Rangers spoil Flyers' shot at home ice
The Flyers' blown third-period lead cost them a win and a stay at home.
Jeff Carter, Danny Briere and the rest of the Flyers are packing their bags for Pittsburgh for the first round of the playoffs.
Sean Avery and Blair Betts scored third-period goals to rally the New York Rangers to a 4-3 win over the Flyers on Sunday, spoiling Philadelphia's shot at home-ice advantage against Pittsburgh in its opening playoff series.
"We were going to have to play there at some point anyway," Briere said. "If we get to a Game 7, we'll talk it about if we get there."
The Flyers (99 points) needed only a point in the finale to secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and home ice in the best-of-seven series with Pittsburgh. Instead, the rematch from last season's conference finals will start in Pittsburgh. The Flyers went 2-2-2 against the No. 4 seed Penguins and three of the games were decided by one goal.
"I think this group has always found a way to do it the hard way, but they have always found a way to do it," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "It's an exciting matchup with great young players on both teams and great stories throughout the year on both teams."
The Rangers are the No. 7 seed and have a first-round matchup with Southeast Division champion Washington.
New York already knew its seed and matchup, and gamely tried to send the Flyers packing for Pittsburgh. Avery tied it at 3 on a slap shot past Martin Biron early in the third, with the goal announcement drowned out by boos and derogatory chants aimed at the instigator.
Only minutes later, Betts took the loose puck and scored his sixth goal midway through the period for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers pressured Henrik Lundqvist the rest of the way. They couldn't get that crucial tying goal and the angry crowd booed as the Flyers skated off the ice.
Avery tangled with Scott Hartnell near the benches at the end of the game.
"We talked about it before the game about going into the playoffs winning a few games in a row, feeling really good about ourselves, and a win on the road," Lundqvist said. "It's a lot of good things."
The Flyers won 20 games on the road this season and reached the Eastern Conference finals last year without home ice in either of their three series. Still, all they needed was a tie against the Rangers to maybe make the championship road a bit easier.
"We should have had the mentality of going out there and get a two-goal lead or three-goal lead," Briere said. "We just sat back and waited to see what was going to happen."
Carter capped a career season with his 46 goals, second only to Washington's Alex Ovechkin's 56 in the NHL. He enters the postseason on a sizzling hot streak with five goals and eight points in his last six games and a point in 10 of his last 14 games.
He won a four-player fight for the puck along the boards, skated into the circle and whizzed the puck past Lundqvist for a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Carter should be happy to see the Penguins on the playoff bracket: He has three goals and eight points against them this season.
Brandon Dubinsky scored two goals for the Rangers and spoiled Philadelphia's season-long streak of not allowing a short-handed goal. His second goal of the game was short-handed, wrecking Philadelphia's shot of becoming the first team in NHL history to play an entire season without allowing one. The Flyers' streak of 103 straight games without surrendering a short-handed goal was the longest since Montreal went 122 games from March 1975 to November 1976.
Briere had an assist on Claude Giroux's ninth goal of the season in the first period, and scored one of his own off a deflection in the second to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
Dubinsky's first goal of the game came off on a fortuitous bounce. Derek Morris' shot from the blue line appeared to deflect off the skate of Flyers defenseman Matt Carle and scoot through Biron's legs and tie it 1-1.
"I thought we showed a lot of character by coming down here and winning this game," Rangers forward Markus Naslund said.
Stop that shot and maybe the Flyers are looking at overtime. Now they're looking at a trip to Pittsburgh.
The Flyers last allowed a short-handed goal on Feb. 19, 2008. ... Briere has a point in 10 of his last 13 games. ... The Flyers outscored the Rangers 10-2 in the second period this season. ... Lundqvist finished with a career-high 38 wins.