|Date of game: 4/29/2014
Recap: Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Wayne Simmonds turned in his first career playoff hat trick, Steve Mason was spectacular, and the Philadelphia Flyers lived to fight at least another day with a 5-2 throttling of the New York Rangers that forced a Game 7 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
With their backs squarely to the wall, the Flyers responded with by far their best performance of the series, roaring out to a 4-0 lead through two periods and sending New York's star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the bench after 40 minutes.
Simmonds and Mason, who recorded 34 saves, set the tone for a season-saving result which gives Philadelphia a surge of momentum heading into Wednesday's winner-take-all showdown at Madison Square Garden, where the Flyers have prevailed just once in their last 11 visits.
"You've got to hop on the train and put it behind you," Mason said.
Claude Giroux added a goal and an assist for his first multi-point effort of these playoffs, while reserve defenseman Erik Gustafsson also lit the lamp in his series debut.
Lundqvist stopped only 19 of 23 shots before being yanked, and the Rangers failed to match their rival's sense of urgency en route to a 12th straight loss in a playoff game they entered with a series lead.
"You don't want to analyze this too much. We have a Game 7 at home," Lundqvist said.
Carl Hagelin foiled Mason's shutout bid with 6:34 left, with Mats Zuccarello later scoring for New York in the final minute and the outcome already decided.
Mason, coming off a shaky showing in Sunday's 4-2 loss in Game 5, was sharp right from the outset, making several tough saves early on before his teammates cashed in on their first power-play opportunity of the evening to move in front.
Lundqvist turned away Simmonds in close during the 5-on-4 advantage, but Philadelphia kept the puck in the zone and got it back to the forward for a successful stuff attempt 7:08 into the contest.
The Flyers then kept up the intensity during a one-sided second period in which they beat Lundqvist three times on just 10 shots to turn the game into a rout.
Brayden Schenn stole the puck from the Rangers' Dan Girardi in the New York end before feeding Simmonds for his second score of the night, which came with a mere 1:32 elapsed in the middle session.
Mason stoned Benoit Pouliot from point-blank range a few minutes later on a Rangers' power play that ended with Philadelphia's Braydon Coburn alertly sending a long pass to Gustafsson, who raced out of the box for a breakaway he finished with a forehand under Lundqvist's left pad at the 5:43 mark to extend the margin to 3-0.
Simmonds completed his hat trick with a back-breaking redirection of Jakub Voracek's shot 4:41 prior to the second overtime.
Mason came through with a few more highlight-reel stops in the third period before the Rangers finally got on the board in the 54th minute. Anton Stralman's right-circle blast was blocked in front, though Hagelin was in perfect position to fire in the rebound to cut the deficit to 4-1.
Cam Talbot replaced Lundqvist to start the third period and turned back all five chances he faced, but was pulled for an extra attacker by New York head coach Alain Vigneault with more than 4 1/2 minutes still on the clock. The Flyers capitalized on the aggressive decision, as a Rangers' giveaway was converted into Giroux's empty-net tally that restored a four-goal differential.
Zuccarello's second marker of the series, off a Pouliot behind-the-net feed during a transition rush, capped the scoring with 56.5 seconds left.Game Notes
Simmonds received a 10-minute misconduct for hitting Zuccarello from behind
after the final goal. His hat trick was the first by a Flyer in the playoffs
since Giroux and Sean Couturier each accomplished the feat in an 8-5 win at
Pittsburgh in the 2012 East quarterfinals ... Gustafsson was inserted in the
lineup in place of Nicklas Grossmann, who injured his right ankle in Game 4
and underwent surgery Tuesday that will sideline him for the remainder of the
playoffs ... The Flyers improved to 8-10 in Game 6's when trailing 3-2, which
includes wins in three of the last four such occasions ... The Rangers
went 0-for-5 on the power play and are scoreless in 16 chances with the man
advantage over the last four games.