PHILADELPHIA – Wayne Simmonds scored three goals and Steve Mason stopped 34 shots to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, forcing a decisive Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
There is little time for rest. The Flyers and Rangers meet Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Simmonds scored in the first period and twice more in the second for his first career postseason hat trick. Mason survived a busy first period and stopped 31 straight shots until Carl Hagelin scored with 6:34 to play. Mats Zuccarello got New York’s other goal in the final minute.
By the third, Simmonds had already helped stake the Flyers to a 4-0 lead.
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Erik Gustafsson also scored and Claude Giroux had an empty-netter for the Flyers.
With a short turnaround, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was yanked for Cam Talbot to open the third.
Lundqvist stopped 19 of 23 shots. He couldn’t stop Simmonds.
“I already started thinking about (Game 7),” Lundqvist said. “You don’t want to analyze this too much. We have a Game 7 at home.”
Simmonds camped out in the area in front of the crease and pounded home three short goals.
Mason made 13 saves in the first period.
“It’s always important to feel the puck early,” he said. “I was able to make a couple of timely saves to start off the game and feel good for the rest of it.”
• The Florida Panthers fired interim coach Peter Horachek, 54, who had a 26-36-4 record after replacing Kevin Dineen on Nov. 8.
• Jaromir Jagr is set to return to the New Jersey Devils next season, general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a report in The New York Times. Jagr, 42, led the Devils in scoring last season with 67 points on 24 goals and 43 assists.