It's over: The Rangers are out of the playoff hunt. In a game that went to the wire, the Philadelphia Flyers pulled out a win and playoff berth. It ended in the last round of a shootout, with the New York Rangers falling 2-1.
In the first period, the Rangers took an early lead with a deflection goal by Jody Shelley. The Flyers dominated offensively, controlling the puck in the offensive zone. The Rangers were held together by the amazing play of Henrik Lundqvist.
In the scoreless second, Lundqvist really shined in the net. The rest of the Rangers, however, seemed to struggle to control the puck. Both sides got some great opportunities, but both Lundqvist's and Philadelphia's Brian Boucher's great stops held the game together.
In the third period, the Rangers' luck changed. With 13 minutes remaining in the period, the Flyer's Matt Carle scored a powerplay goal off a Lundqvist blocked shot. The period finished out with both teams tied.
In overtime, the Rangers had great opportunities, but couldn't deliver. Neither team scored.
The shootout was one of the greatest shootouts I have ever seen. With the Flyers electing to go first, Danny Briere used some amazing footwork and stick handling to completely duke Lundqvist for the goal. For the Rangers, Erik Christensen came up but missed the snapshot.
Next came Mike Richards. He came up and tried the five-hole, but Lundqvist would have none of that. He deflected the shot. Up came Pierre Parenteau; After some early stick-handling, he almost lost the puck, and his shot was deflected by Boucher, but it didn't matter. He slammed the puck gloveside into the net.
So, with the season and the Flyers' playoffs hopes on his shoulders, Claude Giroux came up. From 23 feet out he wound up and took the slapshot. It headed through Lundqvist's five-hole...Goal!
Now it was all up to Olli Jokinen. After all 82 games, the Rangers' hopes rested on him. He came from behind the blue line, gained speed, approached the net, wound up. Back hand, he shoots!
NO! Boucher made the great save. Just like that, the Rangers are getting some early tee time.
It was a heart breaker, to say the least. But the Rangers just couldn't deliver. They failed to keep the puck in the offensive zone, they were out shot 47 to 25, and the only reason they got even close was Lundqvist's goaltending. They also gave up more penalties than Philly did.
The Rangers shot leader, Jody Shelley, got four shots on goal, compared to the Flyer's leader Simone Gagne, who had seven. Artem Anismov and Michal Rozsival assisted Shelley's goal, and Danny Briere and Jeff Carter assisted Matt Carle's. This game was definitely a defensive struggle, and all of the Rangers' defensemen played well.
You definitely could notice the absence of Sean Avery and Ryan Callahan, though. The Rangers' offense seemed thin.
Well, it was a good season. This was the first time the Rangers have missed the playoffs since the lockout. There is one good thing we can say about this season, we sure as hell didn't give up without a fight.