Goaltender Ray Emery and the Philadelphia Flyers had their backs against the wall early in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Rangers. New York had already taken Game 1 and jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into Game 2.
Emery was starting back-to-back games for the first time all year for the Flyers, and he did not look comfortable early. Both of the Rangers’ goals came on side to side passes that Emery looked bad on as he seemed too slow to move across his crease in time to get in position. It looked like the game could turn embarrassing for Philly for a second, but then Emery and the Flyers found their game and began roaring back. They proceeded to score four unanswered goals en route to a 4-2 comeback win.
After the slow start, Emery finished the game strong and stopped 31 of New York’s 33 shots. He wasn’t making highlight reel saves mostly because the Rangers lacked high quality chances, but he stayed poised in net and made some big saves when he had to. His positioning improved tremendously after the shaky start and the Rangers could not break through Philly’s tight defense. The Flyers did well to clog up the slot and block passing lanes while Emery handled the rest. Regardless of the quality of chances for New York, 31 saves is still 31 saves.
The victory marked Emery’s first playoff win in exactly three years. His last postseason victory came on Apr. 20 of 2011 as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. As the series shifts to a pivotal Game 3 in Philadelphia, Emery will get the nod for the third consecutive game. Starter Steve Mason is still not feeling 100 percent after he suffered an upper-body injury in the Flyers’ regular season finale on Apr. 12. Mason skated in practice Monday but is still not ready to return. The good news for Philly is that all of a sudden, the confidence in Emery has risen. Say what you want about Game 2, but one thing’s for sure; Philly doesn’t win that game and even up the series if not for Emery’s sound play.
The Flyers desperately needed Game 2 in Madison Square Garden, and Emery helped deliver on Sunday. The net-minder is sure to enter Game 3 with a ton of confidence as the Flyers try to take their first lead of the series.