NEW YORK -- Early in Game 2 against the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers appeared on their way to capturing a 2-0 series lead in their Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round series. But as the game wore on, they struggled to capitalize on their opportunities and the Flyers made the most of their own, scoring four unanswered goals to win 4-2 and tie the series 1-1 before Game 3 on Tuesday in Philadelphia (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, MSG, CSN-PH).
It was a startling turnaround considering the Rangers led 2-0 8:22 into the game. They scored two goals on their first four shots and a power play that scored twice in their 4-1 victory in Game 1 got another goal after the Flyers began taking undisciplined penalties.
But the Rangers faltered on the man advantage after the first period, going 1-for-6 for the game.
"I don't think we let off the gas but we didn't show the killer instinct to get that third [goal] and have more shifts in their end to create more momentum for us," said defenseman Dan Girardi, who was on the ice for two of Philadelphia's first three goals. "They got the momentum going in their favor with two goals in the [second] period and we just couldn't get that tying goal."
The game turned in the second, when the Flyers scored twice and the Rangers couldn't beat goaltender Ray Emery despite firing 17 shots and having two power plays, including a 4-on-3 advantage for 1:42.
"We had some power plays tonight that we didn't get done," forward Brad Richards said. "Had some point blank chances that Emery made some big saves on. It can go either way in some of those situations. They seemed to be very opportunistic on their chances and they win."
Philadelphia went 2-for-3 on the power play, including Jason Akeson's tying goal in the second and Wayne Simmonds' clincher into an empty net with 26 seconds remaining. Defenseman Luke Schenn scored the game-winner, his first career playoff goal, moments after a delayed penalty was called on Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot.
The Flyers turned the game around despite being outshot and dominated in the faceoff circle for long stretches; their first line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell was limited to two shots for the second straight game. Voracek had both shots, one of which beat Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 14:14 of the first to get Philadelphia back into the game.
"This game can be funny sometimes, I thought that [second] was our best period of the night," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had some grade-A chances, the power play had some great looks. They scored two and we didn't. That was the game."
Though the Flyers took advantage of their opportunities in the second, the Rangers couldn't do enough with theirs. Twenty seconds after Kimmo Timonen left the penalty box following another failed Rangers power play, Schenn scored his game-winner.
The Flyers wouldn't relinquish that lead, shutting down the Rangers' rush and possession game in the third.
"They were up by one in the third, so they're going to be more patient in the neutral zone," defenseman Marc Staal said. "They were clogging it up pretty good."
The power play had one last chance to tie the game after Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann was whistled for interference 3:15 into the third, but the Rangers were outshot 1-0 on the ensuing advantage and missed another opportunity to get back in the game. Once the Rangers were whistled for too many men with 1:19 remaining when Lundqvist raced to the bench for an extra attacker, their chances effectively ran out and they sustained a tough loss in a game that looked so promising early on.
"When the other team makes mistakes, you've got to be able to make them pay; we didn't," Vigneault said. "We had some great looks in the second. Next game we've got to put those in."