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Mason backstops Flyers to victory over Rangers

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Steve Mason rose to the occasion when his team needed him most.

Mason made 37 saves, right wingers Jakub Voracek and Matt Read scored goals, and the Flyers beat the New York Rangers 2-1 on Friday night to even their first-round playoff series at 2-2.

"It was a lot of fun to get back out there in this atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center," Mason said. "It's second to none in my opinion. Watching it on TV prior to getting to this organization and now that I actually get to play in front of that kind of crowd, it's hard to describe. It's a lot of fun."

Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The teams split the first two games there, with the Flyers winning 4-2 in Game 2 last Sunday.

Mason posted his first career playoff win in his first start after returning from an upper-body injury. Ray Emery started the first three games, but was replaced by Mason for the final 7:15 of a 4-1 loss in Game 3.

Mason was outstanding for the Flyers. He stopped 15 shots in the first period and kept making one big save after another in a crucial game. Mason even had to make a glove save on teammate Zac Rinaldo, who inadvertently deflected a pass toward his goaltender.

"He played well. He looked very confident at the start and he had to be. He did a great job," Flyers coach Craig Berube said.

Center Dominic Moore scored New York's goal.

"We believe in ourselves," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We've got to just take it day by day, get ready for practice, look at a few things, correct a few things, but have faith. Play the way we know we're capable of and we'll be alright and just take care of business here in Game 5 and focus on that one."

Voracek's power-play goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the second period. Voracek redirected center Brayden Schenn's slap shot past goalie Henrik Lundqvist for Philadelphia's first goal with a man-advantage after failing to score in their previous six chances.

The Rangers scored the first goal for the third straight game, taking a 1-0 lead in the first period right after killing a sixth straight Philadelphia power play.

Moore came out of the penalty box, skated down the left side with the puck and fired a slap shot that Mason stopped. But Moore controlled the rebound, went behind the net and scored on a wraparound for his first of the series.

"We played really well, especially in the first and second period. We have to take advantages of opportunities. We had good chances," Lundqvist said.

Read tied it a few minutes later. Right winger Jason Akeson ripped a shot wide of the net that bounced off the board and right to Read in front for an easy goal.

"Akey (Akeson) made a great pass," Read said. "He told me he meant to do that, throw the puck behind the boards, and it came right to me. I just had to one-time it. I think Lundqvist got a piece of it but we'll take it."

The Rangers were 0-for-4 on the power play while the Flyers converted one of their two chances.

"Our power play has to be better," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We got good looks, but this time of year you need more than good looks. You need to get the job done."

NOTES: Flyers D Nicklas Grossmann left with a leg injury and did not return. ... Flyers G Steve Mason made his first playoff start since April 23, 2009. He was 0-4 with a 4.27 goals-against average in his only other playoff series for Columbus against Detroit that year. ... Flyers anthem singer Lauren Hart sang "God Bless America" live in a video duet with Kate Smith, who was Philadelphia's good-luck charm during their run to consecutive Stanley Cup titles in 1974-75. ... The Rangers are one of four teams, along with Detroit, Pittsburgh and San Jose, to make the playoffs in eight of the last nine years. ... New York took 16 shots in the first period, scoring one goal. ... Flyers RW Steve Downie remained out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.
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