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Rangers beat Flyers to take 2-1 series lead
After Flyers defenseman Mark Streit scored to cut the Rangers' 2-0 lead in half near the end of the first period Tuesday night, Henrik Lundqvist had a flashback to Sunday.
"My first thought was, 'Let's not do this again,' " Lundqvist said.
The script was different this time. Unlike Game 2, when the Rangers were up 2-0 at Madison Square Garden and lost, 4-2, the locale was different, as was the resolve and the result.
Dan Girardi's rising slap shot from the blue line zipped over goaltender Ray Emery's shoulder at 5:17 of the second period to restore the two-goal cushion and the Rangers captured Game 3, 4-1, for a 2-1 edge in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Game 4 is here on Friday.
After Girardi's key goal, the Rangers steadied, blocking 28 shots in all, killing five penalties and riding Lundqvist's 31 saves to a huge road victory at Wells Fargo Center.
"Tonight our goaltender was the better of the two, and we got some big blocked shots by our penalty-killing units," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We knew this was going to be a tough environment; not only were [our players] prepared, they thrived on it."
Brad Richards, who said the Rangers had a little letdown in Game 2, praised the effort. "We played a little more desperate than the other night," Richards said. "The big goal was Dan's goal to get us back to a two-goal lead."
"We wanted to get the puck out, we were diving to block shots, that was the difference tonight," said Girardi, who led the team with five blocks and whose shot was tipped by Martin St. Louis for the Rangers' second goal at 10:24 of the first.
The Flyers pushed hard in the second period, outshooting the Rangers 13-4, but didn't score. "We showed some good character there," Girardi said.
In the third, with just under four minutes gone, Lundqvist's talent emerged. He managed to get the top of the shaft of his stick on Scott Hartnell's blast that then bounced off the post. That would have brought the Flyers back within one.
In the third period Dan Carcillo, the former Flyer playing his first postseason game as a Ranger, dove and lifted Matt Read's stick but was called for hooking. It didn't seem like a penalty and Carcillo railed at the officials, lucky not to get another two minutes.
But Carcillo was rewarded soon after. He came out of the box and tipped Brian Boyle's shot past Emery to put the game away with 9:07 left.
As has been the case all series long, the officiating was questionable at best. After connecting with about five punches to Carl Hagelin after a wrestling match at 11:37 of the second, Jakub Voracek only received two minutes for roughing.
After Carcillo's goal, Steve Mason, who likely will start Game 4, relieved Emery, who was playing his third consecutive game.
Initially, the Rangers weathered the storm in the first and quieted the orange-clad crowd when Derek Stepan scored his second of the playoffs at 3:54 after Emery stopped Rick Nash's shot but could not cover the right post.
St. Louis then notched his second goal of the series, more than he had scored for the Rangers in the regular season after he arrived on March 5, when he shoved off Kimmo Timonen at the left post to get open for a tip of Girardi's shot at 10:24.
"That's the playoffs," Marc Staal said. "You need different guys on different nights to come up big for you."