NEW YORK - This was not how Jason Akeson had envisioned his Stanley Cup debut would end up - in frustration. He was the center of attention, drew his share of reporters, and while painful, he went through the play that turned around the Flyers' opening playoff game in a negative way.
Akeson's third-period double minor for high sticking led to two power play goals as the New York Rangers opened their first-round series with a 4-1 win over the Flyers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
With the score 1-1, Atkinson was called for his penalty against Carl Hagelin, who took a shot in the mouth. The penalty occurred with 12 minutes, 25 seconds left in the third period. The Rangers then scored power play goals 47 seconds apart, by Brad Richards and Derek Stepan.
New York has not only taken a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, but increased its winning streak at Madison Square Garden against the Flyers to nine games.
The 23-year-old Akeson didn't like recounting the events any more than he did sitting in the penalty box, but he was calm providing the details.
"I went to hit the guy, and unfortunately my back leg kicked out there, and my stick came up, and it was unfortunate," he said.
After the game, Hagelin looked like a player who had been hit by a stick. He had a bloody lip, although he said he didn't need stitches.
"He got me pretty good, but I will take that," said Hagelin, who scored the Rangers' final goal. "We got a four-minute power play and did a great job scoring on our chances."
When asked if this was his worst nightmare, Akeson didn't sugarcoat things.
"Yes, I guess you could say that," he said. "It's not like I went here and meant to take a four-minute penalty."
The feeling was even worse as he sat in the penalty box.
"It wasn't fun, obviously, that is all I could say," the rookie said.
Akeson had played only in the Flyers' final game of this season, on Sunday against Carolina, but he showed enough to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup opener.
Earlier in the game, he had to confront the type of nerves that usually come with playing in a first-ever Stanley Cup game.
"It was a little nerve-wracking, but once I got there, it was another game, and you try to focus and try to forget about the fans and things like that," Akeson said. "You kind of put the nerves in the back burner and play hockey."
He was playing freely until making his big gaffe, which was a true momentum killer.
"I thought we're coming on in the third period and then we got the four-minute penalty," coach Craig Berube said.
Akeson at least took some consolation from the way his teammates responded to him.
"They all had my back, and they were all saying that it is a seven-game series, and you forget it easy," Akeson said. "That is the beauty of this sport - there are six more games that we can win."