Goaltender Ron Hextall, in his first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since a humiliating defeat last year, led the Philadelphia Flyers within one game of the conference finals with a 5-2 victory Wednesday night over the New York Rangers.
Hextall, a 6-0 loser with the New York Islanders the last time he played at the Garden, was a different goaltender this time as the Flyers took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Hexy’s a veteran, he’s crafty, he’s been through much worse than the crowd getting on him a little,” Flyers forward John LeClair said, referring to the Garden fans chanting Hextall’s name derisively most of the evening. “His kind of intensity feeds off the crowd’s intensity. Veterans know how to do that.”
“I wasn’t concerned about coming in here,” the Flyers goaltender said. “I don’t care where I play. I’m a professional and I just want to be at the top of my game, whenever it is, wherever it is.”
The Flyers can finish off the defending champions when the series resumes with Game 4 at the Garden on Friday night.
The Rangers face long odds if they hope to repeat as league champions. Only two teams in Stanley Cup history have come back from 3-0 deficits in series - the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders.
Flyers 5, Rangers 2 New York
Philadelphia 2 3 0 - 5 N.Y. Rangers 0 1 1 - 2
First period-1, Philadelphia, Dineen 2, 2:54. 2, Philadelphia, Renberg 2 (LeClair, Lindros), 19:44.
Second period-3, Philadelphia, Dineen 3, 3:07. 4, Philadelphia, Brind’Amour 4 (Yushkevich, Fedyk), 10:23 (pp). 5, New York, Messier 3 (Verbeek), 13:00. 6, Philadelphia, Haller 4 (Brind’Amour, MacTavish), 16:59 (sh).
Third period-7, New York, Zubov 3 (Graves, Verbeek), 13:00 (pp).
Shots on goal-Philadelphia 13-13-8-34. New York 10-11-13-34.Power-play opp.-Philadelphia 1 of 8; New York 1 of 5.Goalies-Philadelphia, Hextall 7-1 (34 shots-32 saves). New York, Richter 2-5 (22-18), Healy (10:23 second, 12-11).A-18,200 (18,200).
Devils 5, Penguins 1 East Rutherford, N.J.
Linemates Bobby Holik and Randy McKay scored in New Jersey’s threegoal second period as the Devils continued their playoff domination by beating Pittsburgh.
New Jersey leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-1.
The Devils didn’t let the Penguins get started in Game 3. They outshot the Penguins 17-3 in a scoreless first period, then beat Pittsburgh goaltender Ken Wregget three times in the middle period Pittsburgh 0 1 0 - 1 New Jersey 0 3 2 - 5
Second period-1, New Jersey, MacLean 2 (Broten), :58. 2, New Jersey, Holik 1 (McKay, Albelin), 4:03. 3, Pittsburgh, Francis 5 (K.Stevens, Maciver), 10:40. 4, New Jersey, McKay 3 (Peluso, Holik), 17:48.
Third period-5, New Jersey, Lemieux 6 (Richer, Carpenter), 16:17. 6, New Jersey, Niedermayer 2 (Richer, Albelin), 18:51 (pp).
Shots on goal-Pittsburgh 3-12-7-22. New Jersey 17-14-14-45.Power-play opp.-Pittsburgh 0 of 3; New Jersey 1 of 5.Goalies-Pittsburgh, Wregget 5-4 (45 shots-40 saves). New Jersey, Brodeur 6-2 (22-21).A-18,139 (19,040).
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