PHILADELPHIA - The Flyers have guaranteed a Game 6 against the Rangers back here Tuesday.
Backed by goaltender Steve Mason, who made 37 saves in his first start in two weeks, the Flyers tied the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at two games apiece with a 2-1 victory at Wells Fargo Center. Game 5 is at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
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"We've got to win," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds declared after Friday's morning skate.
And they did, thanks in large part to Mason, who was returning from an upper-body injury, and had played just 7:15 since, at the end of Game 3.
The Rangers came out flying and achieved what they wanted in most of the first period, not only testing Mason, who had been in the nets for two wins over the Rangers during the season, with 16 shots, but killing a penalty and taking a 1-0 lead at 4:38.
Brian Boyle blocked Andrew MacDonald's shot on the penalty kill and the puck went to Dominic Moore, who was coming out of the penalty box. His first shot from the left side was blocked, but he curled behind the net and beat Mason to the right post on a wraparound.
In the end, the failure to score again in the first would haunt them and deny an opportunity to grab a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
At 8:55 of the first, the Flyers tied the score on what appeared to be a set play and a fortunate bounce. Jason Akeson's shot appeared to graze Kevin Klein, hit the end boards and carom right to Matt Read, who was cutting to the right post. Henrik Lundqvist couldn't close it off and it was 1-1.
Brayden Schenn went off for roughing, but the Rangers' power play didn't connect despite several good looks. The Flyers had just six shots, the last one a long flip as the period ended.
The Flyers continued to turn pucks over, and were unable to get a forecheck going.
At 3:33, the Flyers killed the first of three Rangers power plays in the period with MacDonald off for a hook. And they took the lead on their own power play.
When Moore went off for a crosscheck at 5:58, Jakub Voracek, cutting in front, deflected Schenn's shot high past Lundqvist at 7:22. The Flyers had been 0-for-6 at home with the man advantage.
Meanwhile, Mason, who had won 33 games during the season, foiled the Rangers for the third time when Sean Couturier sat for a high-stick at 11:43 of the second.
The third period opened with a Rangers four-on-three for 1:06, and the Rangers overpassed and ended up with just one shot, a Ryan McDonagh slapper from the point that Mason blocked with his left pad.
That dropped the Rangers to 0-for-4 for the game and 3-for-20 in the series.
Give the Flyers credit because they played with five defensemen when Nicklas Grossman did not return after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury in the second.
During the season, "Mase did a tremendous job; every night he's been very solid," Vinny Lecavalier said. "When you can have a guy who can make the right decisions behind the net, it helps our D out."
And now he could be a large hurdle for the Rangers as the series continues.