Akeson the goat in Flyers Game 1 loss to Rangers

Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers is taken down in the crease by Dan Girardi of the New York...

Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers is taken down in the crease by Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers during the first period in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden on April 17, 2014. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:11 PM ET

Jason Akeson is going to remember his NHL playoff debut for all the wrong reasons.

The Philadelphia Flyers rookie was a bit careless with his stick during the third period of a tie game and the New York Rangers made him pay dearly for it.

With Akeson serving a double minor for catching Carl Hagelin with a high stick as he fell to the ice after finishing his check in the neutral zone, the Rangers scored on both ends of the power play to take the series opener by a score of 4-1 at Madison Square Garden.

Game 2 goes Sunday afternoon before the series shifts to the City of Brotherly Love.

Centre Brad Richards was in the middle of both power-play goals, scoring on a one-timer and then dishing backdoor to Derek Stepan for the insurance marker.

The Rangers scored 47 seconds apart to spoil a pretty strong effort from goalie Ray Emery, who made 32 saves

Hagelin chipped in a rebound at 15:52 of the third after a shot by Richards, who looked nothing like a guy who was a healthy scratch during the playoffs last spring and was under consideration for a compliance buyout last summer.

The Rangers stuck with Richards and the 2004 Conn Smythe winner responded with a season that included 20 goals and 51 points under new head coach Alain Vigneault.

On Thursday night, Richards added an exclamation point, showing off his creativity and penchant for coming up big in games that count.

While the Rangers held a decided edge in shots on goal, the Flyers did an excellent job of keeping most of the chances to the outside, at least until the third period when they seemed to come unglued and had a parade to the penalty box.


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It’s clear the Flyers have confidence in Emery, who led the Ottawa Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.

“Ray has played awesome when he’s had a chance,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said prior to the game. “Mason had a bunch more starts and it’s unfortunate he got hurt right before we went into the playoffs, but Ray is competitive and that’s what you want in a goalie, the kind of goalie who never gives up on a save.”

The Flyers broke the deadlock at 7:28 of the opening period thanks to a strong forecheck from Hartnell, who crunched Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh down low, stole the puck and fed it back to the left point. From there, Andrew MacDonald unloaded a slapshot that changed direction off the stick of Martin St. Louis and fooled Henrik Lundqvist, who finished with 14 saves.

The Rangers pulled even at 10:53 of the first when Mats Zuccarello buried his own rebound through the five-hole of Emery.

Benoit Pouliot did much of the work leading up to the goal, getting the puck in the slot to Zuccarello.

Zuccarello finished the regular season strong, putting up nine points during the final seven games, so his continued production didn’t come as much of a surprise.

Although the two teams haven’t met in the post-season since the 1997 Eastern Conference final, it shouldn’t take long for the emotions to start running high in what is already an intense rivalry.

“I don’t think the fans like each other and for us as players, we love playing in games like this,” Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said. “You don’t necessarily like the other team, but you respect them.”

“Our biggest rival is Pittsburgh and (Sidney) Crosby and there’s a lot of media attention with that but these guys (the Rangers) are a close second,” Hartnell added. “It’s going to be a battle.”

NOTES

Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn, who started his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, was among the players suiting up in his first Stanley Cup playoff game on Thursday after 436 regular-season games.


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