NEW YORK - Flyers goalie Steve Mason was the best player in the series, but his teammates deserted him in the game-turning second period of Game 7 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers outshot the Flyers, 18-5, and scored two goals - not even Bernie Parent in his prime would have prevented them - as they built a 2-0 lead.
The Rangers came in swarms, and if it wasn't for Mason's acrobatics, it easily could have been 6-0.
The Flyers' power play was much more effective than New York's in the first six games of the series, but it led to their doom in Game 7.
The Flyers had two second-period power plays. Both times, they looked disorganized and managed just one shot - and the Rangers nearly scored a shorthanded goal on both occasions.
The Rangers gained momentum from the penalty kills and scored goals shortly after each one ended, taking a 2-0 lead. With the way the Rangers were blocking shots and denying the Flyers good scoring chances, that advantage felt insurmountable before Jason Akeson cut it to 2-1 with 15 minutes, 28 seconds left in regulation.
Since NHL teams that scored first had won the last 16 Game 7s, the odds were in the Rangers' favor after ex-Flyer Dan Carcillo took a slick pass from Mats Zuccarello and scored early in the second period.
Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn, who had another rough night, and Andrew MacDonald allowed the long pass to get through to Carcillo in front.
Carcillo scored just four goals in 57 regular-season games, but it was his second goal in three games in this series.
The Flyers' penalty kill continued to excel early in the game.
In the first period, after an ill-advised interference penalty on Carcillo, they killed their 21st consecutive penalty in the series. New York had no shots on its first power play as Sean Couturier and Matt Read made some nice reads and clears.
Rick Nash has taken lots of criticism for his lack of production, but he nearly got a gift, courtesy of Coburn, with about four minutes remaining in the opening period.
Nash, who entered the night with just one goal in 18 playoff games in his Rangers career, scooped up a poor Coburn pass, but Mason turned aside his drive from the high slot.
The Rangers will be at a decided disadvantage because of the unfair playoff schedule the NHL handed the winner of their series.
No other first-round series had teams playing games on back-to-back nights. And no other series had teams playing the final three games in four nights.
But that's what the NHL dealt the Flyers and Rangers. Commissioner Gary Bettman brushed it off, saying New York and Philadelphia had an easier travel schedule than the other teams. That's not the case. It takes 1 hour, 22 minutes by train from one city to the other. It takes 49 minutes to fly from Pittsburgh to Columbus, the teams in the other Metropolitan semifinal.
In the Metro finals, Pittsburgh will host the first two games. If they are played on Friday and Sunday, as reported, it means the Rangers will be playing five games in eight nights.