NEW YORK – With their backs against the wall a day ago at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers came alive in the second period, scoring three goals and commanding control of the game to keep their playoff hopes alive.
But Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, it was the second period that lost them the game. They all but fell apart entirely in the middle stanza of Game 7, giving up the only two goals the New York Rangers needed to win the game 2-1 (see story).
Largely because of what transpired in those 20 minutes, it is the Rangers, and not the Flyers, who will move on in the playoffs to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.
What a difference 24 hours can make.
“You look at the 60 minutes of the game, and the second period was what really cost us,” Steve Mason said.
The Flyers entered the period holding tight to the game’s momentum. They had a solid start in the first period -- stronger than any of the series’ preceding six games. They just couldn’t keep it going long enough.
The were outshot by the Rangers, 18-5, in the second period. Their overwhelming lead in faceoff wins evaporated. They had looked so strong during 5-on-5 play for the first time all series early on, but right from the start of the second period, they suddenly were outplayed at even strength.
“In the second period, they took it to us,” Mason said. “We had trouble breaking out of our own zone, they had odd-man rushes and we seemed to be spinning our legs and nothing was happening.”
The Flyers failed twice in the period to capitalize on power-play opportunities. But more than that, they actually gave the Rangers shorthanded chances and seemed to fall flat when each man advantage expired.
That was certainly the case on Dan Carcillo’s goal that gave the Rangers the 1-0 lead.
“When they got that goal, it was after a power play that wasn’t very good,” coach Craig Berube said. “They ended up getting a chance shorthanded off it, and we kind of went back on our heels.
“We didn’t do a very good job in the second period of making plays and getting the puck out of our end and we let them win the game in the second period.”
The Rangers’ second goal, knocked home by Benoit Pouliot about eight minutes later, all but solidified the end of the Flyers’ season. It was as simple as that, Jakub Voracek said.
“They had a couple chances, they buried two goals,” he said. “They had a couple chances, we didn’t. It was a big difference.”
The Flyers’ second-period frustrations were perhaps best exemplified by the one solid chance they had to beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with about four minutes left.
Claude Giroux had a perfect chance to best the Rangers’ goalie, teed up his shot … and sent the puck over the net.
“I was just trying to get away from the D,” Giroux said. “Not sure if he got his stick on it. Just trying to put it high because the goalie was low. I tried to shoot it high.”
He missed. The Rangers carried their 2-0 lead into the third period.
The Flyers’ late-game efforts weren’t enough. Though they were “positive” they would be able to tie the game up and force overtime in the third period, Giroux said, they simply couldn’t work past the 20 minutes of the game they threw away.
Rookie Jason Akeson scored a few minutes intp the third, but the Rangers clamped down on their lead, and the Flyers could do nothing but watch their season come to a premature end.
“We get a pretty big goal in the third early,” Voracek said. “We had a very good third period, we had a good push.
“But it was too late.”