NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers were able to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers with a penalty kill followed by two power-play goals 47 seconds apart.
Heading into Game 2 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden (noon ET; NBC, TSN, RDS), the Rangers know that continuing that success on special teams would likely swing the best-of-7 series in their favor.
Following a successful kill of Ryan McDonagh's high-sticking penalty early in the third period, New York scored twice after Philadelphia forward Jason Akeson was assessed a four-minute penalty for a high stick. The sequence decided the 4-1 win.
"You look at all the series right now, power play and penalty killing are always big deciders of momentum during the game," New York coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Saturday. "The last game, our penalty kill gave us that big kill at the beginning of the third against a really good power play and then our power play was able to get us those two quick goals."
New York's penalty kill ranked third in the NHL with an 85.3 percent rate and has been an asset all season. The power play was struggling as the Rangers wrapped up the regular season. In their last 20 games, the Rangers went 7-for-62 (11.3 percent). That number is inflated, considering one of the goals was into an empty net against the New Jersey Devils on March 22.
The Rangers power play was 2-for-6 to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"If you're [tied] 1-1 on the road in the third, you're not really worrying. That's a good spot to be in," said Brad Richards, who scored one power-play goal and set up another by Derek Stepan. "The difference was we got four minutes and they got two, they didn't score and we scored. When you look back at it, that's where the game changed."
Stepan said, "We got into a little dip at the end of the season but that doesn't change our mindset and how we have to go out and execute. That's not going to change from Game 1 to Game 2. We have to make sure that we're sharp."
Vigneault did not reveal if he would make any lineup changes for Sunday but the expectation is he will stick with the winning formula in Game 2.
Here are the projected lineups:
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Jesper Fast
Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Dominic Moore - Brian Boyle - Derek Dorsett
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
John Moore - Kevin Klein
Scratched: Daniel Carcillo, Justin Falk, Raphael Diaz, Ryan Haggerty, J.T. Miller
Injured: Chris Kreider (hand)
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jason Akeson
Zac Rinaldo - Vincent Lecavalier - Adam Hall
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann
Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn
Scratched: Erik Gustafsson, Hal Gill, Jay Rosehill, Chris Vandevelde
Injured: Steve Mason (upper body), Steve Downie (upper body)