Tonight the New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their first round playoff series.
The Rangers dominated play for the majority of the game, but failed to take a stranglehold on the game until they erupted for two goals during a four minute power play against the Flyers Jazson Akeson. Akeson was sent off for a high stick which drew blood on Carl Hagelin and the Rangers made them pay for it. Brad Richards and Derek Stepan rifled home goals in less than a one minute span during the middle portion of the third period to give the Rangers a two goal cushion.
The Rangers controlled the tempo and flow of the game throughout, but for the majority of the game were in a 1-1 deadlock with their Metropolitan Division rivals, with former Islander Andrew MacDonald scoring at 7:28 of the first period, but the Rangers countered with a Mats Zuccarello goal just three and a half minutes later. The game remained that way until Richards’ power play tally despite the Rangers carrying a heavy shot advantage. The final shot tally was 36 to 15 Rangers, with the Flyers managing only one shot in the third.
Although he was not called upon often, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made a few key saves, especially in the second period when Philadelphia had multiple counter attack chances.
This was not the prettiest game to watch, but Ranger fans will certainly take the result. The thing that stands out most to me in this one was that the Rangers best players were the ones who did the lifting. Zuccarello and Stepan had a goal a piece, Rick Nash notched an assist, Martin St. Louis added a pair of helpers and Richards racked up a goal and two assists on the night. Those are the players the Rnagers will need to carry the load offensively if they want to make noise in the playoffs and they all contributed tonight.
The Rangers will look to build upon this victory when they host the Flyers again on Sunday at noon.