Very little went right for the Flyers on Tuesday night in Game 3 of their Metropolitan Division semifinal playoff series against the Rangers.
Ray Emery, as usual, got little goal support. At the same time, he didn’t give his team much help with clutch saves.
The Flyers had zone time and 32 shots. Far too many were from the outside and didn’t represent any real threat to goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
And then there’s the matter of shot blocking. For the second time in three games, the Rangers frustrated the Flyers with their sticks. This time, they had 28 blocked shots.
It all added up to a 4-1 defeat, giving New York a 2-1 series lead while setting up a crucial Game 4 Friday for Craig Berube’s group (see Instant Replay).
“Everybody realizes it’s either 2-2 or 3-1 so, obviously, we want to win that game and move on,” Kimmo Timonen said.
“Disappointed, but that is playoff hockey. You lose a game, but you take the things you did good and the bad things and try to correct them and move on.”
For all that went wrong, there was a spell three minutes into the third period with the Flyers trailing 3-1 when Scott Hartnell got a brief look at the open left side of the Rangers' net and blasted a shot off of Lundqvist's stick and then the post with the puck ricocheting off the crossbar.
If Hartnell connects there, maybe the Flyers’ fate changes.
Competitively, the Flyers were not in it the remainder of the way and once Dan Carcillo, of all ex-Flyers, scored coming out of the penalty box, Berube yanked Emery for backup Steve Mason, who got 7:15 of time -- his first game action in 10 days.
Mason (whiplash/concussion) figures to start on Friday in Game 4 “if” he feels good enough.
“It’s been a while since I had some game action,” Mason said. “You can practice as much as you want but once the game rolls around, things happen quickly. You can’t control everything out there. It was pretty normal game out there.”
He said he’s ready for Game 4, too.
Question is, will the Flyers' power play be ready? After getting two goals in Game 2, it went 0 for 5 on Tuesday. On one man advantage, with the Flyers trailing 3-1, the Rangers blocked four shots and heads sagged.
They had four power-play shots overall. Special teams win a series and the Flyers aren’t getting consistency on their power play.
“They block a lot of shots, they’re pretty tight in front of the net and Lundqvist made a few good saves,” said Mark Streit, who had the Flyers' lone goal in the opening period after they again fell behind 2-0.
“We need to get pucks through. They’re good at blocking shots and it’s something we need to work on.”
Berube said his club did a better job getting pucks to Lundqvist, but not on the power play. Given how many there were in this game, it was a decisive factor in not taking advantage.
“The power play has got to get shots through and they didn’t,” Berube said.
Claude Giroux finally got his first two shots of the series, but the Flyers' top line with Hartnell and Jakub Voracek was outplayed and outscored by the Rangers' best unit of Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis. Stepan and St. Louis each have two goals in the series.
“We had a couple of good looks and just couldn’t bury them,” Voracek said. “They’re a very good team. When it’s 2-0, it’s very hard to come back. We did it last game but Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the NHL and they are a very good road team.”
One of the things the Flyers were again unable to do is make East/West passes for one-timers, especially on the power play.
The Rangers just seem to have their sticks everywhere, cutting down passes, intercepting them, or at the very least, blocking them.
“We got to make sure the puck goes through,” Giroux said. “They did a very good job of blocking shots.”
Falling behind early twice now in the series is making things very difficult for the Flyers, while the Rangers have had far more dominant periods of play than them.
“That team plays really tight defense and blocks shot, so we would obviously like to have the first goal or even two,” Timonen said. “Sometimes it happens and we’ve come back 2-0 the last game. Obviously, we can’t do that every game.”