You wanted a Game 7, Flyer fans?
You got it.
In spectacular, hat-trick fashion, too, as Wayne Simmonds did the honors on Tuesday night during the Flyers' 5-2 thrashing of the Rangers in Game 6 of this Metropolitan Division semifinal at Wells Fargo Center.
Game 7 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers, who promised en masse a more aggressive approach, were tenacious from the drop of the puck and stayed that way the entire game (see 10 observations).
However, the hero in this one is tough to call. Sure, Simmonds had the hat trick but "Stone Cold" Steve Mason played out of his mind in net with 34 saves.
The crucial turning point came at 12:11 when Derek Dorsett sold a high-stick call to the official on Erik Gustafsson, who didn’t appear to even touch the Rangers’ winger. Gustafsson went to the box and Mason had an incredible glove stab on Benoit Pouliot near the end of a Rangers power play.
Coming out of the box with speed, Gustafsson, who was inserted into the lineup for speed on the blue line, took a pass from Braydon Coburn and drilled a shot past Henrik Lundqvist for a 3-0 lead.
That play changed the game right there and the Flyers had it.
It was 4-0 when the third period began and Rangers coach Alain Vigneault pulled Lundqvist for Cam Talbot because ... resting up for Game 7.
Before the game, the Flyers announced that defenseman Nick Grossmann, who was injured in Game 4, will miss the remainder of the playoffs following surgery to repair tendon damage in his right ankle. His recovery time is 8-10 weeks (see story).
The Rangers came into the game having lost an NHL record 11 straight games when up in a series dating back to 2009, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Flyers are 9-6 all-time in Game 7s and 3-3 on the road.
Flyers coach Craig Berube replaced Scott Hartnell on the top line with Michael Raffl. Hartnell dropped to the second line with Brayden Schenn and Simmonds. That dropped Vinny Lecavalier back to his original fourth-line spot.
Won’t be denied
Simmonds talked about the Flyers not being “scared” to go at the Rangers and make something happen. He backed up his words with his second goal of the series during a first-period power play. Simmonds, outworking a double-team in the paint, had three shots on that power play, and scored off his own rebound in the second half of the power play for a 1-0 lead at 7:08.
Easily the best first period the Flyers have played in this series. They came out with some “jam” and it carried through the entire stanza. That said, they also had far too many turnovers in their own end. Even sure-handed Sean Couturier had several gaffes that led to Rangers scoring chances. Tuesday marked only the second time this series the Flyers scored first in the opening period (Game 1).
In the opening four minutes, the Rangers had the Flyers pinned in their own end and missed four shots while Mason had to make several saves on those that were on net.
The Flyers scored three times as Simmonds notched the first hat trick of the series. His second goal came at 1:32 on a broken pass from Schenn. Then came Mason’s great save on Pouliot, followed by Gustafsson’s burst out of the penalty box to make it 3-0. Simmonds made it a rout at 15:19 on the power play with a deflection at the net for his hat trick.
It was Simmonds’ first career hatter in the playoffs (see video) and the first one since Claude Giroux and Couturier each scored one on April 13, 2012, in Game 2 of the Pittsburgh series, won by the Flyers, 8-5.
639 were thrown onto the ice.
The Flyers won this battle, hands down.
The Flyers were 2 for 3, while the Rangers were 0 for 5.
The Flyers came into the game having killed off 15 straight Rangers power plays. That number grew to 20 as they went 5 for 5.
Mason had two such saves in stride from the paint in the first period, robbing Rick Nash and Anton Stralman.
The Flyers had 23 shots through two periods and 29 for the game.
Carl Hagelin scored with 6:34 left in the game to ruin Mason’s shutout.
One large one in the stands; Brian Boyle over Adam Hall on the ice.
Defenseman Hal Gill; forwards Jay Rosehill, Tye McGinn, Steve Downie (post-concussion syndrome), and Chris VandeVelde; goalie Cal Heeter.
Defensemen Brandon Manning, Oliver Lauridsen and Mark Alt; forwards Scott Laughton, Ben Holmstrom, Nick Cousins, Brandon Alderson, Petr Straka; goalie Yann Danis.