Nearly as soon as the Stanley Cup Playoff match-ups were confirmed prior to the first round, the battle between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers was anticipated to be the most exciting of all quarter-finals. Seven games later, other series’ may have stole the show for the much-anticipated show-down, but this Eastern Conference Battle was quietly, everything a hockey fan could ask for.
The Flyers and Rangers started the series with a bang in Game One from the Big Apple. Philadelphia took the lead in the first period, but just under five minutes later, New York got on the board, tying the game with a Mats Zucharello goal. Both teams couldn’t find the net in the second period, with nearly equal shot totals. As close as the middle period was, the third was dominated by the home team. On a Jason Akeson double-minor penalty, the Rangers scored twice in just over a minute, and Carl Hagelin put the game away with an even-strength goal just 5 minutes later. The Rangers’ 4-1 win came with little opposition, with the Flyers only managing 15 shots in the game.
Game Two was a much different story for both teams, although it didn’t seem like it early in the game. The Rangers held a 2-0 lead in the first , but Philadelphia started chipping away with a goal from Jakub Voracek before the period was out. The Flyers didn’t waste any time catching up in the second period, with Jason Akeson and Luke Schenn goals giving the team their first lead since the first period of Game One. Philadelphia’s defense held off a spirited Rangers attack, and after an empty-net goal, the Flyers evened the series with a 4-2 win.
The two teams traveled to the City of Brotherly Love for Game Three, and for the second straight game, the Rangers jumped out to an early lead. Martin St. Louis‘ re-direction in the first period turned out to be the game-winner for the Rangers, after the Flyers could only muster one goal courtesy of Mark Streit. Dan Girardi gave New York some breathing room in the second, and Dan Carcillo sealed a Rangers win with his first playoff goal since 2011 with the Flyers, much to the dismay of Philadelphia fans.
It was high time for a close game after three consecutive two-or-more goal margins, and that’s precisely what happened in Game Four. The Rangers took another lead with Dominic Moore‘s first goal of the series, but Matt Read tied the score just over four minutes later, and both teams ended the first period dead-locked at 1. After Moore took a cross-checking penalty early in the second, Jakub Voracek scored on the man-advantage, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead that they protected all the way until the final horn.
It was back to Madison Square Garden for Game Five, with the winner holding a chance to take the series in the next game. Mid-way through the second period, and Dominic Moore‘s second goal of the series gave New York a 3-0 lead, with the Flyers putting up very little resistance. Vincent Lecavalier scored his first playoff goal in three years to get the Flyers on the board, and Claude Giroux made it a game with his first of the series in the third period. However, that would be as close as Philadelphia would come, as Brian Boyle‘s empty-net goal put the game away, giving the Rangers a 3-2 series lead.
The Flyers went home, their seasons on the line, in Game Six, and it was a dominating performance from start to finish by the orange and white. Powered by a Wayne Simmonds hat-trick, the Flyers had a 4-0 lead by the game’s second intermission. Carl Hagelin‘s goal early in the final period gave the Rangers some life, but a Claude Giroux empty-netter set the win in stone, as Mats Zucharello’s last-minute goal was merely a foot-note. The Flyers forced Game Seven, the Rangers’ fifth consecutive series to go to such a length.
Just 24 hours later, the Rangers and Flyers met for an all-deciding Game Seven. The Rangers worked their way into a 2-0 lead heading into the final 20 minutes, with goals from Dan Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot. Jason Akeson‘s goal just 5 minutes in gave the Flyers life, and made the final minutes of the series extremely nerve-wracking for all fans involved. However, it was as close as Philadelphia would come, as Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers’ 2-1 victory gave them the 4-3 series win.
Brad Richards is now 5-0 in Game Sevens, as the Rangers move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the semi-finals.
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