If someone were to ever write a book on how to play a road, playoff hockey game, they would use tonight’s game by the New York Rangers as the opening chapter. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead in the series with a 4-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers got all the ingredients they needed for this game, from great goaltending to good special teams.
Going into a hostile environment like Philadelphia would rattle a lot of teams, especially the Rangers since they dropped both games there this year. However, the Rangers were a force on the road this year, setting a franchise record with 25 road wins.
The Rangers pounced on the Flyers early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead for the second straight game. The Flyers cut the lead to 2-1, much like last game, and had momentum going into the second period. However, unlike last game, the Rangers got the next goal and went up 3-1 off of a piss missile by Dan Girardi.
For a road playoff game the away team needs to have a few things. First, they need their goalie to play great. I previously stated that the Rangers needed more from Henrik Lundqvist, and they got that tonight. He was excellent, stopping all but one shot and making that one key save to keep the Rangers up.
In a road game you also need stellar special teams. The power play wasn’t excellent, but it did not cause the Rangers to lose momentum. The penalty kill bounced back from a poor game on Sunday, and did an excellent job tonight. Brian Boyle, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Carl Hagelin were blocking shots all over the ice. Somewhere, John Tortorella was smiling seeing that.
Another big thing for a road game is getting the first goal. Not only did the Rangers get the first goal, they got the second goal as well. They also got the “next goal,” which put them up 3-1, and eventually cruised to the finish line.
The Rangers didn’t win in Philly at all this year, but they played a masterful road game tonight. They did an excellent job of handling the momentum swings and played an excellent road game. They will need to carry the play from this game over to Game 4.