Rangers eliminate Flyers in Game 7, get set to face Penguins

The New York Rangers celebrate defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of their Eastern...

The New York Rangers celebrate defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden in New York, April 30, 2014. (ADAM HUNGER/USA Today)

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:11 PM ET

NEW YORK - The New York Rangers weren’t ready to see the curtain close on their season. This Broadway Blueshirts show has been extended into the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Henrik Lundqvist continued his trend of Game 7 mastery by making 26 saves as the Rangers earned a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night to secure a 4-3 series triumph and advance to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division final.

The Rangers and Penguins split their four-game regular-season series.

After giving up four goals on 23 shots and getting pulled after two periods Tuesday night, Lundqvist wasn’t overly busy but made the saves he needed to.

Lundqvist is now 4-1 during his career in Game 7s and has never given up more than two goals in any of those outings.

At the other end, Flyers netminder Steve Mason had to be sharp just to keep his team within striking distance.

Mason came out on the losing end in the first Game 7 of his career, but he deserves credit for playing well in three of his four starts this series, especially when you consider he was coming back from a somewhat mysterious and undisclosed upper-body injury suffered April 12.

The injury sidelined him for nearly two weeks, but Mason quickly shook off the rust and was one of the biggest reasons the Flyers even got to a seventh and deciding game.

Going into the contest, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault thought it might come down to the top guns.

“I think it’s fair to say that whoever’s top players perform the best is probably the team that is going to win this game,” Vigenault said after the Rangers held a team meeting.

As it turns out, it was the role players who delivered the goal scoring.

For the fifth time in seven games this series, the Rangers broke the ice and the goal came 27 seconds after New York killed off a bench minor for having too many men on the ice.

Dan Carcillo served the penalty and after leaving the sin bin he made his way to the front of the net to convert a no-look, backhand pass from Mats Zuccarello.

Carcillo, who was replaced by J.T. Miller in the Rangers’ lineup for Games 5 and 6, scored his second goal in four games this series.

Vigneault wasn’t afraid to make changes on the third-line right wing against the Flyers, using three different players (Carcillo, Miller and Jesper Fast) with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin.

That trio of revolving right-wingers combined for two goals and four points in seven games, providingimportant secondary scoring.

The Rangers extended the lead to 2-0 at 11:46 of the second period when Derick Brassard made an outstanding pass in front to Benoit Pouliot, who scored his second goal of the series one shift after being called for goalie interference.

Flyers winger Jason Akeson broke up Lundqvist’s shutout at 4:32 of the third period, producing his second goal of the series.

Rangers winger Rick Nash did everything but score, buzzing throughout the contest and playing with a physical edge in what was probably his most effective game of the series.

Nash, who led the Rangers in goals in each of the past two regular seasons, has only one goal in 19 playoff games but finished this series with four assists in seven games.

The power play had been a lethal weapon for the Flyers in this series, entering the contest with a 31.6% efficiency rate, which ranked second behind the Boston Bruins (37.5%).

But the Flyers came up empty with the man advantage in their only two opportunities of Game 7 after scoring twice in Game 6.

The Rangers won their fourth consecutive Game 7 and improved to 6-0 at Madison Square Garden in seventh games.

ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WiebeSunSports


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