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Rangers lament lost power-play opportunities

by Mike G. Morreale

PHILADELPHIA -- The New York Rangers suffered a power outage Friday and paid the price in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

The Rangers were limited to five shots and no goals on four power-play opportunities in a 2-1 loss that evened this best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is Sunday at Madison Square Garden (noon ET; NBC, RDS, TSN).

"The power play is about execution and you have to give them credit; they were really good on the penalty kill," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of the Flyers. "Our power play needs to be better. We got some good looks, but at this time in the year, you need more than good looks. You've got to get the job done."

The Rangers, who went 2-for-6 with the man-advantage in a 4-1 win in Game 1, were held without a goal on eight power plays against the Flyers in two games in Philadelphia and are 3-for-20 for the series.

"We'll look at [the video] and see," Rangers forward Brad Richards said. "We started well and now we've gone a couple games without one. They've obviously adjusted and it's up to us to take control of it and be better."

Richards finished the regular season with a team-leading 19 power-play points in 82 games and has a goal and two points with the man-advantage in four Stanley Cup Playoff games against the Flyers.

"In the playoffs, it's a lot easier to kill a penalty than score on one, and after scoring a few early, they've adjusted, battled and blocked shots, so it's a lot harder to get pucks through," Richards said. "We're finding we have to shoot around guys more, so we'll look at it and try to come up with something [for Sunday]."

The Rangers finished 15th in the NHL on the power play in the regular season (48 of 264, 18.2 percent) and were seventh on the road (28 of 132, 21.2 percent). They were 0-for-4 in a 4-1 win Tuesday in Game 3 and were again scoreless on as many attempts on Friday.

"I don't know exactly what it was," Rangers forward Rick Nash said. "We'll have to watch it on video, but I can say it was definitely a game-breaker. It was the deciding factor in the game. They score on their power play [in the second period] and we couldn't get the job done on ours."

The Rangers missed their opportunity to tie the game to open the third period when presented a 4-on-3 advantage for 1:12 after Matt Read was whistled for hooking Ryan McDonagh late in the second. The Flyers held the Rangers without a shot on goal during that advantage.

"Sometimes you get thinking too much, trying to look for a pretty play," McDonagh said. "I don't think we established a shot but we had some pretty good looks. The biggest thing was we didn't get the second and third opportunities and didn't make [Flyers goalie Steve] Mason's first game back too tough as far as traffic and screening.

"On our power play, we didn't get enough pucks toward the net and that's the biggest thing."

Vigneault opened the third period with Richards, Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis and McDonagh; Philadelphia coach Craig Berube countered with Sean Couturier, Adam Hall and Braydon Coburn. The Flyers got the better of the play during that key stretch.

"That was a time for us in the game to get back into it," Vigneault said. "We had the unit on the ice that we felt could get it done and we didn't execute very well … so."

The Flyers ranked seventh in the League during the regular season on the penalty kill (84.8 percent), allowing 48 goals in 316 times short. They received a boost Friday with the addition of starting goalie Steve Mason (37 saves), who won his first NHL playoff game in five career tries.

"You're playing a team that wants to win too," St. Louis said. "They're not going to lay down and give you four straight [wins]. You've got to go out there and earn it every night and we did that at times [Friday]. Obviously, it's a game of inches, and they got a good bounce on their first one and capitalized on their power play and we didn't. That said, we made it too easy for Mason."

Mason was the first star of the game in his first start for the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, who had four goals and 17 points on the power play during the regular season, has one assist on the man-advantage in the four games.

What must change?

"A lot," Zuccarello said. "We had some good looks, but Philly is playing great and we just have to look and see what we can do better. We are trying as hard as we can out there, but they're playing pretty well. We have to get better on that for sure. I think we created enough chances 5-on-5 to win this hockey game but we don't score goals."


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