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Behind Simmonds' hat trick, Flyers force Game 7

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Apr 29 2014 10:12:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 10:20:09 PM CDT
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PHILADELPHIA -

Right winger Wayne Simmonds skated off to a standing ovation, while goalie Steve Mason heard the fans chanting his name in the final minute.

Thanks to Simmonds and Mason, the Philadelphia Flyers are still alive.

Simmonds scored a hat trick, Mason made 34 saves, and the Flyers avoided elimination by defeating the New York Rangers 5-2 in Game 6 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series Tuesday night.

Game 7 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are 2-1 on home ice in the series.

"Those are the moments that send chills down your spine when you have 20,000 fans chanting your name," Mason said. "You appreciate that. Those are special moments."

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson and center Claude Giroux added goals for the Flyers, who continued the pattern of the teams alternating wins and losses throughout the series.

Left winger Carl Hagelin ended Mason's shutout bid with 6:34 left in the game. New York center Mats Zuccarello scored a goal in the final minute.

Mason, who didn't start the first three games of the series because of an upper-body injury, was outstanding for the second time in three games. He outplayed Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, an eight-time All-Star and former Vezina Trophy winner. Lundqvist allowed four goals on 23 shots and was replaced in goal by Cam Talbot to start the third period.

"I already started thinking about tomorrow," Lundqvist said. "You don't want to analyze this too much. We have a Game 7 at home."

Simmonds gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal at 7:08 of the first period. Shortly after Lundqvist robbed him with an excellent save, Simmonds scored off his own rebound in front for his second goal of the series.

"I guess that's becoming kind of my forte," Simmonds said. "I actually had a great chance before the goal, too. (Giroux) gave me a great pass. I got the puck off my skate from (left winger Scott Hartnell) and I just kept banging at it."

Simmonds made it 2-0 at 1:32 of the second period. Center Brayden Schenn broke in with Simmonds and took a shot, but he didn't get all of it. The puck trickled to Simmonds at the side of the net, and he fired it in before an out-of-position Lundqvist could slide across to stop it.

Gustafsson made it 3-0 at 14:17 of the middle period on a breakaway goal seconds after leaving the penalty box. He picked up a loose puck and fired a shot between Lundqvist's legs for his first career playoff goal.

"It was a lot of fun when I saw the puck come down to me," Gustafsson said. "I think it took a fortunate bounce. I almost thought Lundqvist was going to get it, but luckily the puck went in."

Mason made his best stop of the game right before Gustafsson's goal, robbing left winger Benoit Pouliot with a glove save on a point-blank shot.

Simmonds then scored another on the power play, redirecting right winger Jakub Voracek's shot into the net to make it 4-0 at 15:19 of the second.

"It was one of those nights where we just couldn't execute," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "This team is not going to be thinking about what happened tonight. It's over once we get on the train. You have to move on quick."

The longtime rivals will meet in a Game 7 for only the second time in their history. The Flyers beat the Rangers 4-3 in Game 7 of the NHL semifinals on May 5, 1974. Philadelphia then defeated the Boston Bruins for its first Stanley Cup title.

NOTES: Flyers D Nicklas Grossmann had surgery to repair tendon damage in his right ankle suffered in Game 4. He will be sidelined eight to 10 weeks. ... The Rangers scored first in the previous four games before the Flyers took a 1-0 lead Tuesday. ... The Flyers took just their second two-goal lead of the series when RW Wayne Simmonds put them up 2-0 in the second period. ... Rangers D Dan Girardi played in his 70th playoff game with the team, tying Mark Messier and Jeff Beukeboom for sixth on the club's all-time list. ... Rangers C Chris Kreider (hand) and Flyers RW Steve Downie (upper body) remained out of the lineup.

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