|Date of game: 4/30/2014
Recap: NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Lundqvist outdueled Steve Mason, Dan Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot scored in the second period and the New York Rangers outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers to post a 2-1 victory in the deciding Game 7 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
One night after being yanked after two periods in a 5-2 defeat, Lundqvist made 26 saves, only letting a Jason Akeson third-period shot slip by him en route to upping his all-time Game 7 record to 4-1.
"He's the backbone of our team for a reason," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "He made some huge saves down the stretch. We know what he means to this team and he knows what he means. When he's on his game he's tough to beat. When they had some time in our zone he was the backbone back there. He relaxed everybody with some big saves."
Carcillo and Pouliot lit the lamp within an 8:40 span for the Rangers, who have had to endure a seven-game series in the first round in each of the last three seasons but won each time.
New York will take on the Metropolitan Division-champion Penguins in the second round, starting Friday in Pittsburgh.
At times their only serviceable player on the ice, Mason made 31 saves for the Flyers, who had won each of their last three Game 7s dating back to 2008.
"Everybody feels lousy, obviously. I'm proud of our players. They went through a lot this year. We stuck together and went to a Game 7," said Flyers head coach Craig Berube, who took over three games into the season and steered the club into the postseason after a franchise-worst 1-7-0 start.
The Flyers misfired on their initial power play early in the second period, and Carcillo exited the box after serving his club's bench minor to redirect a cross-ice dish from Mats Zuccarello which gave the Rangers a lead at 3:06.
"Everybody wants to play," Carcillo said about his inclusion after a two-game absence. "You never get used to sitting out. It stings, but you have to be ready. Just glad I got the opportunity and even happier I was able to help the team move on."
Mason did the splits to deny Martin St. Louis at the right post off a 3-on-1 with 7 1/2 minutes elapsed, but he couldn't get across in time to stop Pouliot's one-timer off a Derick Brassard dish to give New York a two-goal edge with 8:14 to play in the second.
Philadelphia remained stuck in quicksand, and endured some misfortune when Claude Giroux had Lundqvist prone in his crease, but lifted a Jakub Voracek centering feed over the crossbar with four minutes before the second intermission.
Mason was then left alone on two point-blank chances in the final minute of the second, making deft saves on both and keeping his club alive with 16 stops in the middle frame.
"We didn't play nearly good enough in the second period to win that game," Voracek admitted. "It's too bad we couldn't get that one. They had chances and buried two goals in the second and we got the goal in the third and we had a good push but it was too late."
Akeson gave the visitors some life, following up his own miss from the right circle with a successful try inside the left post to bring his club within 2-1 at 4:32 of the third.
Lundqvist had trouble handling the puck from the start as the Flyers began to press more offensively. He needed to fend off a pair of crease rushes, and then stopped Michael Raffl from the left side midway through the period.
Mason was called to the bench for an extra attacker on two separate occasions in the final 1:33 of regulation, but Philadelphia mustered only one quality chance for the remainder.
The game opened on a heart-stopping note. Rick Nash, who went scoreless in the series, flipped a shot off the left post on the game's first shift. It ended up being a positive omen for the visitors, as Mason stopped 10 shots and Lundqvist 11 in the scoreless first period.Game Notes
New York upped its Game 7 record to 7-5, and maintained its perfect 6-0 ledger
at Madison Square Garden ... Philadelphia fell to 9-7 during the terminal
contest in best-of-sevens and 3-4 on the road ... The Flyers suffered their
first Game 7 setback since a 2-1 result at Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference
finals on May 22, 2004 ... The Rangers haven't dropped a Game 7 since falling
to the Washington Capitals in the 2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinals ...
Carcillo had been a healthy scratch in favor of J.T. Miller in Games 5 and 6
... In the pivotal second period, the Rangers outshot the Flyers by an 18-5
margin ... Nash has recorded just two goals in 23 postseason appearances for
the Blue Jackets and Rangers ... The last 17 teams to score first in a Game 7
have won that game to advance.