Coming into Game 7, the Philadelphia Flyers had to do something they'd yet to do in their first-round series with the New York Rangers: win an odd-numbered game. They simply couldn't break the pattern.
The Rangers will advance to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a 2-1 Game 7 win over the Flyers in a game that was as close as the series that necessitated it.
The first period? A dead heat, with both teams trading relatively unthreatening chances, seemingly feeling one another out. But in the second, the Rangers took over, tilting the ice towards Steve Mason by outshooting the Flyers 18-5, and pouring a couple in. .
Mason did his best, making 16 saves in the middle frame, several of them spectacular, but he was simply outspectacular'd on the Rangers' first goal, a tap-in from Daniel Carcillo after a dazzling, no-look Mats Zuccarello pass that went through four orange legs and one blue semicircle before finding Carcillo.
Midway through the period, the Rangers practically repeated the play (expect for the niftiness of the pass, which was basically unrepeatable). Benoit Pouliot scored on a feed from Derick Brassard.
Desperate to tie the game up, the Flyers came out, well, flying in the third. But they'd fall short, thanks to Henrik Lundqvist looking much more kingly than he looked while getting the hook in Game 6. He stopped 11 in the third and 26 of 27 overall.
Jason Akeson scored at 4:32 to cut the lead in half and give us a tense final fifteen minutes, but they'd turn out to be the final fifteen minutes of the Flyers' season, as the Flyers came no closer.
The Rangers now move on to round two, where they'll meet the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's a winnable series for them -- they have depth and defense the Penguins don't -- but it won't be easy. They struggled to defend the Flyers' top guns at times in this series, and if they can't handle Claude Giroux and the boys, one wonders how they'll do when the Penguins occasionally roll out their super-line of Sidney Crosby, who's so due his belly button popped, Evgeni Malkin, and some third guy.
But that's a concern for tomorrow. For now, the Rangers can celebrate their move to round two, and Alain Vigneault can finally celebrate winning a Game 7 over an Eastern Conference team.