Published April 29, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers hope to punch their ticket to the second round when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday for a Game 6 battle at Wells Fargo Center.
In order to close out this best-of-seven set, however, the Rangers will have to become the first team to win consecutive games in this series. Through five meetings so far, New York has won the odd-numbered contests with the Flyers posting victories in Games 2 and 4.
The Flyers hope to extend the series by earning a win in their final home test of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup. If Philadelphia can pick up a win tonight, the clubs will have a short turnaround for Game 7, which is scheduled for Wednesday night in New York. After losing Sunday afternoon in Manhattan, Philadelphia has lost 10 of its last 11 visits to Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Flyers in Sunday's Game 5 at Madison Square Garden and then held on for a 4-2 decision.
Marc Staal opened the scoring with 8:07 left in the first stanza, while Brad Richards and Dominic Moore each netted second-period goals to hand New York a 3-0 cushion. Moore added an assist on Brian Boyle's empty-net score in the final seconds that sealed the victory and put the Flyers on the brink of elimination.
"It's frustrating," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said of the loss. "You're always playing catch-up. You make it a lot harder on yourself. You're skating that much harder to get on pucks, to create turnovers, to get chances, instead of playing comfortable. It's a lot easier when you've got a lead."
Henrik Lundqvist came up with 24 saves for New York, which bounced back from a 2-1 Game 4 loss in which Flyers netminder Steve Mason turned in a stellar 37- save effort.
"I thought we played a really good game, good energy," said Lundqvist. "Looking back at the game in Philly (on Friday), we did a lot of good things as well. The difference is today we scored a couple goals and that brings a lot of confidence to the group. It's easy to play patient and not overdo a lot of things."
Mason managed just 18 stops on Sunday and Philadelphia wasn't able to maintain its momentum from Friday's win despite captain Claude Giroux and veteran Vincent Lecavalier recording their first goals of the these playoffs.
"This series is definitely not over," Mason said. "We're looking forward to going home and having a big game there and bringing it back here for Game 7."
The Flyers are 7-10 all-time in Game 6 when trailing 3-2, but New York is 13-2 in playoff series in which it held a lead of three games to two. The Rangers, however, also have lost 11 straight playoff games when holding a series lead.
Philadelphia defenseman Hal Gill saw his first action of the 2014 postseason Sunday, filling in for the injured Nicklas Grossman, who hurt his right knee in Game 4. Gill was a minus-2 in just over 12 minutes of ice time in Game 5.
Grossmann is expected to miss Game 6, but Erik Gustafsson could fill in for the injured blueliner on Tuesday instead of Gill. The 25-year-old Gustafsson had two goals and eight assists in 31 games this season and has one goal and one assist over seven career playoff tilts.
J.T. Miller, New York's first-round pick in the 2011 draft, made his playoff debut on Sunday. The 21-year-old forward contributed a point to the winning effort.
Including this playoff series, which is the first postseason meeting between New York and Philadelphia since 1997, the Rangers have lost four of their last five games at Wells Fargo Center.