Rangers take Game 1 from Flyers

New York Rangers (from left) Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Anton Stralman celebrate Zuccarello's goal during the first period against the Flyers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Frank Franklin II / Associated Press
New York Rangers (from left) Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Anton Stralman celebrate Zuccarello's goal during the first period against the Flyers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Frank Franklin II / Associated Press
Posted: April 19, 2014

NEW YORK - For the Flyers, the magnitude of the games has changed, but not the results at Madison Square Garden.

It continues to be their Garden of Evil.

They managed just 15 shots and dropped their ninth straight at the World's Most Famous Arena, opening the playoffs with a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart in the third period, snapping a 1-1 tie and keying the Rangers' hard-earned win.

The Rangers got a four-minute power play because of a double minor against rookie winger Jason Akeson, who played just one regular-season game and was making his NHL playoff debut. Akeson was penalized for high-sticking Carl Hagelin.

"He's just trying to make a hard play. He ends up falling down and his stick comes up," winger Wayne Simmonds said. ". . . If you dwell on things too long, they'll eat at you. I told him, 'Have a short memory.' "

In the third period, with the game tied at 1 and a chance to steal the series lead, the Flyers had 10 minutes of penalties and were outshot, 13-1. Overall, the Flyers were outshot, 36-15, and they had one power play to the Rangers' six.

"We have to be more disciplined," said defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who gave the Flyers an early 1-0 lead with his first goal in five career playoff games. "They really poured it on in the third, and a lot of it was because we were on the penalty kill, and that's something we need to address."

"Our plan was to chip pucks in, and as soon as we got pucks in, it seemed like they had three guys to our two," Simmonds said. "We've got to figure that out."

Richards scored after a shot caromed off Kimmo Timonen's skate and he picked up the puck in the right circle and beat Ray Emery with 10 minutes, 39 seconds left, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

With the Rangers holding a 3-1 lead, Timonen fired a shot off the right post, and the Rangers went down to the other end and Hagelin scored on a rebound to make it 4-1 with 4:08 to go.

Game 2 will be at MSG on Sunday at noon.

The Flyers are 23-9 when they win Game 1 in a series; they are 15-21 when they lose a playoff opener.

The Flyers were futile on their only power play of the night, failing to get a shot during a two-minute advantage early in the third period.

A short time later, Akeson's penalty was a game-changer.

"You've got to control your stick," coach Craig Berube said.

"I think we understood . . . you have to make a difference there," said Rangers forward Martin St. Louis after setting up Richards' game-winning goal and assisting on Stepan's, both on the ensuing power play.

Emery, thrust into the starter's role because of an injury to Steve Mason, was the Flyers' best player in the first two periods as he made 22 saves and kept the game tied at 1.

Although the Flyers were outplayed over the first two periods, Emery gave them a chance to steal a victory if the team had a solid third period.

"We still hadn't played good enough hockey, and were 1-1," Berube said.

But as was the case late in the regular season, they had another third-period collapse.

The Flyers finished with their lowest playoff shot total since they had 14 in a 3-2 win over Montreal in a 2008 conference semifinal, making things ridiculously easy for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"You're not going to beat Lundqvist with 15 shots, that's for sure," Simmonds said. "We have to do a better job next game. That's why it's series, not one game."

The Flyers' top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Jake Voracek had just one combined goal in four regular-season games against the Rangers, and they had only two shots - both by Hartnell - on Thursday.

"It's not time to hit the panic button; it's only one game," Giroux said.

The Rangers realize that.

"We are not going to overthink it here," Lundqvist said. "We did a lot of good things and we are going to continue building on that."


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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