The Rangers attacked early and often in a key, 4-2 Game 5 win over the Flyers.
The win gave New York a 3-2 advantage in the series and kept home-ice advantage for a possible Game 7.
Marc Staal got the scoring started in the first period with his first goal of the postseason at the 11:53 mark. Staal missed all of last year’s playoffs recovering from an eye injury when he took a puck to the face during a late-season game against Philadelphia.
Brad Richards made the score 2-0 Rangers when he backhanded in a rebound past Steve Mason on a scramble in front of the net off shots by J.T. Miller and Carl Hagelin. The Rangers were cheated out of a goal moments later when the referee blew a play dead saying Mason had corralled a shot, instead of counting a score.
But the Rangers made it 3-0 on a nice steal and unassisted goal by Dominic Moore.
Vincent Lecavalier and Claude Giroux netted goals at the end of the second and third periods respectively to make it 3-2, but Brian Boyle put in an empty netter with 15 seconds left to give New York the win.
What we learned …
1. Rush hour
Even though they finished with 22 shots in Game 5, the Rangers did a far better job of creating traffic in front of Mason than in Game 4. The second and third goals came from the low slot, and on the first, Martin St. Louis drove to the net in order to provide Marc Staal a screen.
2. Feeling old
Sunday’s game was only the third for Flyers defenseman Hal Gill since Dec. 21, and only his seventh of the season. As such, it made sense for the Rangers to test the 6-foot-7, 243-pound blueliner. Never among the league’s most mobile defensemen, what the Rangers found was that the 39-year-old was unable to keep up with their speed, underscored on Moore’s goal which pushed the advantage to 3-0.
3. On the kill
The penalty kill units kept the Rangers in the game early, then allowed them maintain their lead. Five times the Rangers were shorthanded, but yielded only Lecavalier’s power-play drive with 33 seconds left in the second period. Through the first five games of series, the Rangers have killed 12-of-16 power plays.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.