JUST MINUTES after the final buzzer sounded on Game 6, a 5-2 Flyers' victory at the Wells Fargo Center, the Rangers were already looking ahead to tonight's Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
There wasn't much use, they figured, in dwelling on their most lopsided loss of this first-round series.
"It's playoffs. We're still a confident team," New York defenseman Marc Staal said. "We've played well all series long. That's not going to be an issue. We'll be ready to go. We'll have our 'A' game."
The Rangers certainly didn't play their 'A' game last night. Although they appeared the better team early on, Wayne Simmonds' power-play goal kick-started a string of four consecutive Philadelphia goals against goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Ultimately, the Flyers' success on the power play (2-for-3), coupled with the Rangers' lack of it (0-for-5) and Steve Mason's 34 saves proved crucial to forcing tonight's winner-take-all series finale.
"Playoffs is all about having short memory, so you move on," said Lundqvist, who had an uncharacteristically poor performance. "Don't think too much about this game. They did pretty much everything better than us, even goaltending. We all have to step up tomorrow and play our best to try and beat this team. I already started thinking about [Game 7]."
Last night's outcome extended the Rangers' mystifying streak of losing postseason games when leading a series to 12 consecutive contests. They are 6-5 all-time in Game 7s.
The opportunity to play Game 7 at home was oft-mentioned in the Rangers' locker room after last night's game. The Flyers' struggles in New York have been well-documented. The Rangers have won seven of eight postseason series in which they've held home-ice advantage.
"You fight for home ice all year and down stretch for these Game 7s and we've got it in our building," Martin St. Louis said. "They are great games to play. They're fun games. We're disappointed about the result [last night], but we have a chance to do something good [tonight]."
Lundqvist, who entered last night's game ranked third in the NHL playoffs with a 1.81 goals-against average, surrendered four goals in the first two periods. Cam Talbot replaced him to start the third.
Simmonds' hat trick, which he completed in the second period, marked the first postseason three-goal performance surrendered by the Rangers in 8 years. The Devils' John Madden was the last to do so, on April 24, 2006 against then-Rangers goaltender Kevin Weekes.
Carl Hagelin negated Mason's shutout with a goal off a rebound with 6 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the game. Mats Zuccarello scored a garbage-time goal with less than a minute left to cap the scoring.
"I thought in that first period we had a lot of chances to score," Staal said. "I think we were down by one, but we felt good about the opportunities that we were creating. And then that second period they got a couple, and it just gets away from us there. We certainly can learn from that second [period] but we'll be fine. We'll wake up [today] and get after it for Game 7."
Veteran Brad Richards said Game 7s bring the best out in players.
"I've been part of it here with the Rangers and there's no better game to be a part of," Richards said. "You always want to close a series out but when you're on home ice with your fans in a must-win game, those are great days to be a part of. We're going to embrace it."