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Rangers' shot-blockers foil Flyers in Game 3

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:03 AM
Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Before the Philadelphia Flyers' skilled shooters can even think about beating New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, they'll have to figure out a way to outsmart the first line of defense and get pucks on the net.

The Rangers put on a shot-blocking clinic Tuesday night in a 4-1 victory in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center. The Rangers grabbed a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 series, which resumes Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN, CNBC, MSG, CSN-PH).

The Rangers, who totaled 29 blocked shots in Games 1 and 2 at Madison Square Garden, were credited with 28 blocks on Tuesday. Lundqvist made 31 saves to earn his 32nd career playoff victory in 70 games.

"We tried to get pucks through, but I have to give them a lot of credit, they block a lot of shots," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "They do a good job finding the lanes. I'm sure we're going to watch the tape and figure it out because those things are huge, especially in the third period [when the Rangers blocked eight shots]."

Flyers defenseman Mark Streit, who scored Philadelphia's lone goal, acknowledged the secret might be to think differently rather than simply winding up and blasting away.

"Their defense goes on one knee a lot in order to cover more of the net, and that's an opportunity too," he said. "If they go down on one knee, they can't move so maybe we need to fake shots, take it wide and get it on net and get to the rebounds."

The Rangers had 15 players who blocked at least one shot; defenseman Dan Girardi led the way with five. The Flyers finished 0-for-5 on the power-play due in large part to New York's determined effort in front of their goalie.

"On the power play I think we've got to move the puck quicker than we are," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "I think it's too predictable with what we're doing with [Claude] Giroux and Timonen. We have to move it around more and get it in [Jakub] Voracek's hands more. There are different things that we can to do and we will make some adjustments."

The biggest sequence in the game came with the Flyers trailing 3-1 midway through the second period, when they failed to convert on back-to-back power-play opportunities. The Rangers' penalty-killers limited the Flyers to two shots and were also credited with eight blocked shots, including two each by Girardi and Brian Boyle.

Rangers forward Dan Carcillo, who was making his series debut against his former team, was sent to the penalty box for roughing at 11:37. Lundqvist didn't face a single shot as Ryan McDonagh (against Timonen), Boyle (Giroux), Marc Staal (Streit) and Girardi (Brayden Schenn) were credited with blocked shots.

"We had a lot of zone time with the puck," Berube said. "They did a good job with the puck, they had the puck, but we have to get it to the net and we didn't. That's the biggest problem. If you don't get it to the net, you're not going to score. We have to fake, a little deception here and get them through."

The Flyers got another chance to cut into the two-goal deficit at 16:02 when Derek Dorsett was called for charging. Lundqvist stopped shots by Scott Hartnell and Jason Akeson, but Boyle (Timonen), Girardi (Giroux), Carl Hagelin (Timonen) and Anton Stralman (Brayden Schenn) came to their goalie's aid.

"When guys pay the price like that it's huge," Lundqvist said. "It's a big part of the game right now to pay the price like that. I think it brings a lot of energy to the group when you see a big block like that because every play matters right now."

Philadelphia was also stymied on its fifth power-play attempt of the game when Carcillo returned to the penalty box for hooking at 8:36 of the third period. The Rangers blocked two more shots before Carcillo came of the box and scored the sixth playoff goal of his career off a backhander at 10:53 to give his team a 4-1 cushion.

"They've played like that forever, so we know that we're going to have to work for a lot of shots to get through their defensemen and on to Lundqvist," Voracek said. "Sometimes it's very hard to get it through. That's why we have so many blocked shots, because they get in the lane pretty well. That's something we've got to work on, and hopefully when we get those chances on Friday we can bury them."

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