"I understand," Emery said afterward. " 'Mase' hasn't played in a while and it's 4-1. I'm guessing you want to get him in there and get him to have a feel for things."
For Mason, the Game 3 experiment served not only as a dip of the big toe into the deep end of Stanley Cup playoff hockey, but also a blueprint on how not to start Game 4: by allowing two goals in the first 10 minutes for the second game in a row.
Playing with the energy and emotion of 20,096 rabid fans, the Flyers generated more scoring chances on Henrik Lundqvist than they did in each of their first two games at Madison Square Garden combined. They had little more than a goal from Mark Streit to show for it.
When the horn sounded on their deflating, 4-1 loss last night to the Rangers, a once-raucous crowd turned into a chorus of boos.
"I don't think we were good enough the first 10 minutes," Jake Voracek said. "There was some poor coverage there. It was a tough bounce on that second goal. I think after that, we got a little better."
The loss handed New York a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven, first-round series, the Rangers snatching back home-ice advantage in the process.
"I don't think, actually, we played that bad of a game," Kimmo Timonen said. "We had moments there in the second period where it was a 2-1 game. I'm a little disappointed, but that's playoff hockey. They did a good job in front of their goalie."
Game 3 was the Rangers' first playoff win in Philadelphia since May 18, 1997, when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch starred for Broadway on Broad Street.
While much of the chatter heading into Friday night's Game 4 will be about the goaltending, it is important to point out that only one of the Flyers' six goals scored in the first three games came from a forward at even strength (Voracek). Defensemen have accounted for three goals (Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald and Luke Schenn). Wayne Simmonds scored an empty-netter to ice Game 2; Jason Akeson tapped in a rebound on the power play.
Yes, Emery stopped just 16 of 20 shots last night - something he admitted was "not an ideal start, goalwise" - but maybe only two of those were ones that Mason would have handled better. He said he missed the launch of Dan Girardi's blast from the point and didn't close his legs in time for Carcillo's nail in the coffin.
If that is the case, that Emery could only be faulted for two, the Flyers still would have lost by a 2-1 margin.
"I'm sure he wants a couple back," Berube said. "But he's battled and he gave us an opportunity going into the third period."
The Flyers outshot New York, 32-23, in Game 3, but had significantly more shots that either missed the net (20) or were blocked (28) by the Rangers' aggressive defense. The only time the Flyers had more attempts stifled in a single game this season was March 8 in Toronto, and they didn't win that game, either.
Lundqvist was solid for New York, but he only needed to stop what ultimately made its way to him, which wasn't much. In a word, Berube called the Flyers "predictable" as they were unable to cash in on five separate power plays to climb back into the game.
"Everything has to happen quicker," Timonen said. "We've got to get the pucks through somewhere, whether it's moving them sideways or whatever."
Voracek happily summed up that for the Flyers, it "can't be worse on Friday, that's the good news." Playing their first Stanley Cup playoff game in this city in 714 days, the Flyers failed to seize the momentum they brought back from Manhattan.
Now, as Timonen said, the Flyers have the choice on Friday to send it back to the Garden either trailing by two games or tied.
"We knew this was going to be a long series," Sean Couturier said. "We definitely don't need to panic right now."
Craig Berube shifted Vinny Lecavalier to center the second line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.Michael Raffl slid into Lecavalier's spot on the fourth line . . . The Flyers announced Steve Downie (upper body) is out indefinitely . . . Dan Carcillo played his first game of the series for New York, subbing for Jesper Fast . . . The future of the Flyers' blue line - recent draft picks Shayne Gostisbehere,Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin - was in the press box for last night's game. Morin, 18, wore a walking boot on his foot after suffering an injury for Rimouski in the QMJHL playoffs. All will practice with the Flyers for the duration of the playoffs.
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