Hockey / Sports

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason makes a save in third period against the New York Rangers during Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The Flyers won, 5-2, to force a Game 7. (Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

Flyers' defense comes up big when it counts

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers coach Craig Berube used the home-ice advantage for favorable matchups Tuesday night, and the best consisted of his third line against the Rangers' most potent line in this series.

The defensive play of center Sean Couturier and wingers Matt Read and Jason Akeson against a Rangers line that had been giving them fits, was one of the reasons the Flyers are heading to Wednesday's deciding Game 7 in Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers' line of center Derek Stepan and wingers Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis was silenced as the Flyers scored a 5-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center.

Now with the series tied at three games apiece, Wednesday's winner will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

With the Stepan line starting the game, Berube countered with the Couturier line and for the second straight game at the Wells Fargo Center, the Rangers' potent trio was held without a point.

In the other four games in this series, the Stepan line has a combined four goals and 10 assists.

While Couturier had two key giveaways early, he settled down and so did the Flyers. Goalie Steve Mason kept the Flyers in the game with 13 first-period saves in earning a 1-0 lead at intermission.

With three second-period goals, the Flyers had one of their best periods in this postseason.

In Tuesday's win, the Couturier line was strong, a continuation of Game 4 when the Flyers defeated the visiting Rangers, 2-1, on Friday. In that game the Stepan line was a minus-1 and the Couturier line was plus-1.

In addition, Couturier and Read have been a highly effective penalty-killing duo, a carryover from the regular season.

One of the penalties had to be killed without Couturier, who was assessed two minutes for hooking Nash with 13 minutes, 50 seconds left in the second period.

The Rangers scored on three of their first eight power-play chances in this series. They missed on their first three chances over the first two periods, trailed by 4-0 and pulled goalie Henrik Lundqvist to begin the third.

For the game, the Rangers were 0 for 5 on the power play. The Rangers have failed to score on their last 20 power-play chances.

Two other forwards who were also effective for the Flyers' penalty-killing unit were Michael Raffl and Adam Hall. Others also contributed, but Couturier, Read, Raffl and Hall did the bulk of the duty for the forwards.

Defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn also had major penalty-killing roles.

The Flyers' penalty killers were effective in forechecking the Rangers and not allowing them to gain much steam

The Rangers have gone four games without scoring a power-play goal, frustrated by the Flyers' penalty killers.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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