NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers knew entering Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers that slowing down Claude Giroux would be critical. In their 4-1 win against the Flyers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers did more than slow down Philadelphia's captain and leading scorer; they stopped him in his tracks.
New York gave the NHL's third-leading scorer absolutely nothing, rendering him a non-factor in a game that saw him collect more penalties than shots. It marked the second time all season that Giroux was held shotless and pointless. His linemates didn't fare much better, thanks in large part to the Rangers' fourth forward line.
"We didn't support each other as well as we wanted to," Giroux said of his line's play. "We did a lot of good things, but we did a lot of wrong things too. We're going to look into it and be ready for Game 2."
The top trio of Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell was held to two shots, each a soft effort by Hartnell far from the net that was swept away by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The line saw plenty of New York defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi but struggled mightily against the Rangers' fourth forward line of Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett.
At one point late in the second period, New York's checking line pinned the Flyers' top line deep in the Philadelphia end for nearly a full minute. Boyle and company also fired seven shots on goal, almost half the Flyers' 15 for the game.
"We're aware when they're out there and who they are as players and as a line," Boyle said. "We tried to hold them in check."
Giroux's frustration mounted over the course of the game and boiled over when the Flyers captain took a slashing penalty with 7:59 remaining in the third and New York leading 3-1. The Rangers didn't score with Giroux in the penalty box, but they did register four shots on the man advantage and seemed to deflate the Flyers.
New York will go for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series Sunday at Madison Square Garden (Noon ET; NBC, TSN, RDS).
It wasn't intended as a reward from coach Alain Vigneault, but it seemed appropriate that the Boyle line came out for the final shift to finish the game and close out a big series-opening win.
"They're a tough line to handle," Vigneault said. "They played to their strength and they kept it high percentage. That's what they need to do."
With the Rangers' top three lines relied on more for scoring, the fourth trio plans on continuing to play the tough, aggressive style that has become its signature, no matter who they are matched up against.
"They have a lot of good players," Boyle said. "They have got some depth, so it's a challenge with every line they put out there."