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Mistakes on defense cost Flyers in Game 5

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- The Philadelphia Flyers didn't give the New York Rangers much in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Madison Square Garden. They limited New York to 22 shots on goal, but a few defensive miscues made the difference in a 4-2 loss.

Down 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, the Flyers are one loss away from elimination. Game 6 will be played Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN, MSG, CSN-PHI).

"I didn't think we gave up a whole lot. We gave up 22 shots," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "I thought [Martin] St. Louis and [Mats] Zuccarello, they're shifty guys and quick guys. We've got to do a better job of defending them."

That team quickness made New York especially dangerous in Game 5. And when the otherwise tight Philadelphia defense made a mistake, the Rangers made it pay.

The Flyers controlled much of the play in the first, outshooting the Rangers 8-6. In one stretch lasting almost 16 minutes, the Rangers mustered just two shots. But one was defenseman Marc Staal's first playoff goal in nearly two years, which deflected off the stick of Braydon Coburn and past goaltender Steve Mason.

It was the first sign of how opportunistic the Rangers would be Sunday afternoon.

"I just think we were a little too sloppy," Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "We weren't making strong plays and good decisions consistently enough. It cost us."

The Rangers opened the second period with a few good chances but then went more than five minutes without a shot. When they finally got their next attempt, they made it count. The Flyers defense lost center Brad Richards in the middle of a scramble around their net. Left wide open, all Richards had to do was slide a loose puck into a vacant net to give New York a 2-0 lead at 8:07 of the second period.

But the play that may have best exemplified the Rangers' opportunistic attack against a tight Flyers defense was Dominic Moore's game-winner. With 3:40 remaining in the second period, Coburn's pass hit Hal Gill's right skate and slid behind the 6-foot-7 defenseman. The speedy Moore wasted no time, grabbing the turnover and depositing the puck behind Mason to give New York a 3-0 lead it wouldn't relinquish.

"I tried to kick it up and I kicked it back. I've got to make that play and I didn't," said Gill, who was making his 2014 postseason debut after playing six regular-season games. "When you're in the playoffs, you make a little mistake and it will cost you. That's what I like about it. Sometimes that's what [stinks]."

Philadelphia faltered in other areas, most notably on a power play that went without a goal on its first four chances before Vincent Lecavalier scored on the man advantage with 33 seconds remaining in the second to cut the Rangers' lead to 3-1. Although a defense that was reconfigured after Nicklas Grossmann was lost with a lower-body injury held its ground, a small collection of miscues showed exactly how slim the margin for error can be in the playoffs.

The Flyers are focusing on the positives and are confident they can bring the series back to MSG for Game 7.

"I think we've had our back against the wall pretty well all year," Berube said. "We're fighting for playoffs, fighting for a lot of things. Our team will fight again in Game 6."


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