At a glance: With the first-round series between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers tied 2-2, it now becomes a best-of-three set between the Metropolitan Division rivals beginning with Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday at noon ET. The Rangers have home-ice advantage, but the Flyers have Steve Mason back in net, and the 25-year-old goaltender was terrific in Game 4, his first start of the series.
Back in net: In making his first start of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, Mason eliminated any doubt about his place in Philly’s goaltending hierarchy. He made 37 saves en route to the first postseason win of his career, a long time coming considering his last start was during his rookie season with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009. Mason made his much-anticipated return after sustaining an upper-body injury during the last weekend of the regular season.
Power outage: Game 4 came down to special teams, and the Rangers lost the battle, squandering a critical 4-on-3 power play that could have tied the game. New York has struggled on the man advantage this series, with just three goals in 20 attempts. They have also been blanked on all 12 of their last man-up opportunities. According to Rangers alternate captain Brad Richards, the Flyers have made some adjustments: “They are a different team on the penalty kill than they were in the first game,” he said. Now, it’s time for the Rangers to make some tweaks. Said Richards: “Hopefully, we’ll put our answer on the ice.”
Giroux goal-less: Flyers captain Claude Giroux's most significant contribution this series? His Game 4 guarantee that came to fruition when his team rallied around his bold assertion. On the ice, his production has been lacking. Giroux has been limited to just two points through four games and has yet to notch his first goal of the series.
A-OK: Key in containing Giroux will be top-pair defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. McDonagh, who missed the final five games of the regular season with a left shoulder injury, appeared to aggravate the injury in Friday’s game after a hit on Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo. After the game, McDonagh insisted he was fine and that it was “just a stinger.” Though the minute-mongering blueliner did not partake in the team’s optional practice Saturday, he is expected to play on Sunday, according to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
Lineup change: Veteran Hal Gill will be in the Flyers' lineup Sunday in place of Nicklas Grossmann, who sustained a lower-body injury during Game 5. Gill has played in only six games for the Flyers this season but has 110 games of postseason experience in his career.