NEW YORK -- Wary of letting another opportunity slip past, the New York Rangers topped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on home ice Sunday afternoon to take a 3-2 series lead. The series now shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Tuesday night, when the Rangers have a shot at putting away their division rivals and punching their ticket for Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After Marc Staal's first-period marker, veterans Brad Richards and Dominic Moore combined to give the Rangers a three-goal lead in the middle frame. And though the Flyers were able to notch a power-play goal on their fifth attempt of the game, a strong penalty-killing effort by the Blueshirts gave New York the special teams edge in a pivotal Game 5.
With Flyers goaltender Steve Mason pulled for the extra attacker, captain Claude Giroux scored his first goal of the postseason with less than two minutes to play to pull his club within a goal, but Philly could not complete the comeback effort.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist turned away 24 of 26 shots he faced. Lundqvist has now given up two goals or fewer in six of his last seven starts.
Second-period surge: Instead of getting derailed by a premature whistle that nullified what should've been a goal 2:14 into the second period, the Rangers shrugged off the blown call and rattled off a pair of goals to take a 3-0 lead against the Flyers. Richards backhanded a third-chance rebound past Mason at 8:07 and Moore notched his second goal of the playoffs later in the period.
Rough outing: Hal Gill replaced an injured Nicklas Grossmann in Philly’s lineup, though coach Craig Berube might want to reconsider blueliner Erik Gustafsson for Game 6. The slow-footed Gill bungled a few different plays in his first playoff game of the series. He fanned on a wide-open open-timer from the left circle in the middle frame, and failed to wrangle the bouncing puck that ended up in the Flyers’ net on Moore’s goal at 16:20. Though the 39-year-old Gill boasts 110 games of playoff experience, he appeared in only six regular-season contests for Philadelphia. Now we see why.
Playoff debut: Rangers prospect J.T. Miller made his first NHL playoff appearance in Sunday’s game, replacing former Flyer and expert antagonist Daniel Carcillo in the Rangers’ Game 5 lineup. Skating on a line with Richards and Carl Hagelin, Miller recorded his first postseason point when he picked up an assist on Richards’ second-period goal. Miller’s insertion into the lineup comes after an inconsistent season during which he was lights-out in the American Hockey League but unable to make his mark at the NHL level.