NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In danger of facing elimination heading back to Madison Square Garden, the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change between the pipes for Friday’s Game 4 of their first-round series with the Rangers.
It’s Steve Mason’s net, again.
Despite being outshot 20-10 over the final two periods on Tuesday, the Rangers grabbed a 2-1 series lead with a 4-1 win in Philadelphia.
Ray Emery started the first three games for the Flyers, but was pulled in favor of Mason the third period of Game 3. Emery played very well in the Flyers’ Game 2 win in New York, stopping 31 of 33 shots, but has a 3.49 goals-against average and anemic .888 save percentage in the series.
That kind of overall play likely won’t get it done and the Flyers know it.
Mason, who missed the first two games of this series with an upper body injury, had a very good regular season, posting 33 wins, a 2.50 GAA and .917 save percentage. The 25-year-old netminder is 0-4 in his playoff career, last starting a postseason game in 2009 for Columbus.
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, a guest on WFAN with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Thursday, said the Blueshirts’ mindset cannot change.
“We put a lot of pucks on Emery in Game 3 and it turned into some success for us and we will have to do the same to Mason — mix it up, put some traffic on him and definitely gotta get to the second and third opportunities,” McDonagh said.
The Rangers grabbed 2-0 leads in Games 2 and 3, but the difference Tuesday was their play in their own end, especially against the Flyers’ top offensive player, Claude Giroux.
“In Game 2 things got away from us defensively, and it was something we talked about in the couple days leading up Game 3,” McDonagh said. “In Game 3 we really just beared down and had to win the game in a different style, spent a lot of time in our zone, which we don’t like to do, but we stayed in good position and blocked a ton of shots and in reality found a way to win a hockey game a little bit differently than we did down the stretch here. That’s a sign of a good team, finding a way to win games.”
Giroux, who has just two assists in the series after putting up 86 points during the regular season, did his best Mark Messier impersonation on Wednesday, guaranteeing a Flyers Game 4 win.
But that could prove difficult if Martin St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist keep doing what they’ve been doing.
After registering just one goal and eight points in 19 games for the Blueshirts following the trade with Tampa Bay, St. Louis has two goals and five points through the first three games against the Flyers.
“He definitely feels comfortable with his linemates, with everybody in the room and the coaching staff,” McDonagh said of St. Louis. “With the way he prepares, we knew it was just a matter of time.”
Lundqvist has looked every bit like the former Vezina Trophy winner he is, posting a 1.68 GAA and .930 save percentage in the series.
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