The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is going out with a bang as for the fifth time in NHL history, three Games 7 will be played on the same day when the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers, the Colorado Avalanche host the Minnesota Wild (Both games as part of a doubleheader on TSN2 and TSN GO beginning tonight at 7pm et/4pm pt) and the San Jose Sharks take on the Los Angeles Kings.
Wayne Simmonds turned in his first career playoff hat trick, Steve Mason was spectacular, and the Flyers lived to fight tonight with a 5-2 throttling of New York that forced a Game 7 on Tuesday night.
With their backs squarely to the wall, the Flyers responded with by far their best performance of the series, roaring out to a 4-0 lead through two periods and sending New York's star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the bench after 40 minutes. Simmonds and Mason, who recorded 34 saves, set the tone for a season-saving result which gives Philadelphia a surge of momentum heading into Wednesday's winner-take-all showdown at Madison Square Garden, where the Flyers have prevailed just once in their last 11 visits.
Claude Giroux added a goal and an assist for his first multi-point effort of these playoffs, while reserve defenseman Erik Gustafsson also lit the lamp in his series debut.
Lundqvist stopped only 19 of 23 shots before being yanked, and the Rangers failed to match their rival's sense of urgency en route to a 12th straight loss in a playoff game they entered with a series lead.
The Rangers are 5-0 at home in Games 7, the best record of any team that has played at least three home games. However, the Flyers are 9-6 all-time in Game 7s, the best record of any team that has played at least 10 games overall.
This is also the second time the Flyers and Rangers have played a Game 7 against each other. In the 1974 semifinals, the Flyers beat the Rangers, 4-3.
In Denver, the Wild and Avalanche will meet in a seventh and deciding game for the first time since 2003, when the Wild defeated the Avalanche - with then-starting netminder Patrick Roy in goal - in Game 7 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
In Game 6 on Monday, Zach Parise's second goal of the game broke a tie with 6:29 remaining in the third period and the Wild beat the Avalanche 5-2 to even their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Parise had four points and the Wild survived a minute and 48 seconds against an extra skater after Roy pulled goaltender Semyon Varlamov early again - a strategy that has worked twice in the series.
With a victory, the Wild will not only advance to Round 2, but will become the only active NHL, NBA or MLB team to go 3-0 all-time in Games 7.
In San Jose, the Sharks are in danger of becoming the fourth team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead en route to losing a playoff round when they take on the Kings.
Only three teams have ever came back to win a series after dropping the first three games. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers are the only clubs to have pulled off the monumental comeback.
Alex Stalock, who was in goal for the struggling Antti Niemi on Monday, stopped 26 shots in his first NHL playoff start - a 4-1 loss in Game 6. Niemi will get the call in goal for San Jose in Game 7.
"In my mind, if it gets to Game 7, it doesn't matter how it gets there," Sharks forward Logan Couture said on Monday. "It gets there, and you're going for one game. We played all year for the home ice. I'm sure our building is going to be loud. We've got to turn this thing around and win that game."