The Penguins will find out tonight who their second-round opponent will be in the playoffs.
They will face the winner of the first-round series between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers missed a chance to clinch that series Tuesday night. The Flyers evened the series, 3-3, with a 5-2 win in Game 6 on the strength of a hat trick by Wayne Simmonds.
The deciding Game 7 is tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Penguins earned a spot in the second round by eliminating Columbus. They clinched that series Monday with a 4-3 win in Game 6.
The Penguins’ first two games of the next round will be played at Consol Energy Center. The schedule for that series has not been announced.
But while the Penguins rest, the Flyers and Rangers faced a quick turnaround.
“You’ve got to hop on the train and put it behind you. I’ve got a few episodes of ‘Scandal’ to catch up on,” Mason said, referring to a popular TV show.
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 shots before Carl Hagelin scored late in the third. Mats Zuccarello also scored for New York in the final minute.
By the third, Simmonds already had helped stake the Flyers to a 4-0 lead, and the outcome was a mere formality. Claude Giroux had an empty-netter for the Flyers, who will try for a second win in New York in this series.
“We’re not ready to go home yet,” Simmonds said.
Simmonds, a 29-goal scorer who had one goal in the first five games, completed the hat trick with 4:41 left in the second. With the quick turnaround, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was yanked for Cam Talbot to open the third period.
Lundqvist stopped 19 of 23 shots, but he could not 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.”
Outplayed most of the series, the Flyers were lucky to escape the first period with a 1-0 lead. They were careless with the puck in their own zone and had nine turnovers, which led to a ton of work for Mason, who made 13 saves in the 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.”
Simmonds put Philadelphia in front with his third hack at a rebound on a power play. But Simmonds, a 6-foot-2, 183-pound forward, was just warming up.
Simmonds was perfectly positioned off to Lundqvist’s right side and pounded in a trickling puck for a 2-0 lead just 1:32 into the second. He was just outside the crease again to knock in his third goal late in the second for the 4-0 lead.
“We knew the situation,” Simmonds said. “You’ve got to get pumped up for games like this.”
■ Game: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Madison Square Garden, New York.
■ When: 7 p.m.
■ TV: NBC Sports Network.
■ Series: Tied, 3-3.
■ At stake: The winner advances to meet the Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.