The Philadelphia Flyers faced off against the New York Rangers at home on Tuesday night, with a hat-trick courtesy of Wayne Simmonds lifting the Flyers to a 5-2 victory.
Erik Gustafsson also scored a goal for the Flyers beating Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist one-on-one and captain Claude Giroux sealed the game with an empty net goal.
This win sets up a very intense game seven matchup in New York tomorrow night. Steve Mason was once again very solid in goal for the Flyers, stopping 34 shots and stunning the Rangers yet again.
He made several key saves throughout the game including stopping Mats Zuccarello on a breakaway with a wonderful glove save.
Zuccarello got his revenge, however, scoring on Mason with less than a minute to go in the final period. Carl Hagelin also scored for the Rangers.
Lundqvist made 24 saves on the night and looked far from his usual self during the game. He ended with a .826 save percentage, far below the playoff numbers hockey fans are used to seeing from him.
Once again, Rangers were successful in outshooting the Flyers but were forced to come away with another loss. I believe the Rangers' inability to capitalise on any of the Flyers' turnovers was a vital factor in this game.
Now, the question becomes can the veteran leadership of Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis and Lundqvist give the Rangers the boost they need to clinch the series? Or will the speed and aggressive play of the Flyers' young squad outlast the Rangers on the road?
It’s really difficult to pick a winner in this series now, in my opinion. Mason has been playing so well for the Flyers, even as the Rangers continue to outshoot their opponents.
I believe this series will come down to which goaltender makes the first mistake. Other than that, I believe both these teams have been very evenly matched throughout the series.
However, if the Rangers can gain momentum and energy from the home crowd early on in the game, they’ll have a good chance to clinch the series.
The one thing that the Rangers must resist is engaging in the Flyers' bullying tactics and retaliating. Quite simply, if the Rangers remain disciplined and stay out of the box, I believe they’ll win the series.
The Flyers will need another big performance from Mason if they have any hope of winning the series on the road. Giroux, Simmonds and Scott Hartnell need to attack the Rangers right away and use their aggressive fore-checking style to create turnovers and powerplays.
Game seven is set for Wednesday night and is sure to be an entertaining conclusion to this exciting series.
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