Opening Hockey Day in America, the Flyers continued their seasonal domination of the Rangers beating them 4-2 for their fourth straight win over New York. Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux both had a goal and an assist today leading Philly to victory, despite the orange and black getting out shot 39-24. The win improves the Flyers’ record to 39-15-5.
After a very uneventful opening twelve minutes, the Rangers were the first team to score. Brian Boucher failed to clear the puck as the Rangers gained control of it behind the net leading to a few offensive chances. As Ryan McDonagh shot the puck wide from the point, it caromed off the boards to the slot. As Boucher just missed covering up the puck, Wojtek Wolski took a shot from the slot that leaked its way to the goalline. With Boosh unaware of where the puck was, Wolski reached behind the netminder to slam it home for his 10th goal on the season.
The first lead of the game didn’t last long as the Flyers found the equalizer four minutes later. Giroux entered the offensive zone and reached the faceoff dot to the left of Henrik Lundqvist before turning back towards the blue line. While facing center ice, Giroux lofted a backhanded pass to the slot where Carter shot the puck five-hole on Lundqvist who was screened by Scott Hartnell. Carter’s 27th goal on the season tied the game up with three minutes and eighteen seconds left in the period.
An opportunity for the Flyers to take their first lead of the game came just twenty seconds later as Brian Boyle went to the sin bin for cross-checking. The power play didn’t result in a goal as three of Philly’s shots were blocked by New York skaters and the lone power-play shot from Danny Briere couldn’t find its way past Lundqvist.
As the score was tied 1-1 to start the second period, the Flyers received the first power play of the middle stanza. Derek Stepan sat in the box for a delay of game call. He’d go unpunished for his actions as the Flyers couldn’t muster a power-play goal.
With their third power play opportunity of the game, the Flyers finally cashed in on the man advantage. Twenty-three seconds after Wolski went to the box for boarding Andrej Meszaros, Giroux registered his second point on the day by finding the back of the net. After Lundqvist made a great sprawling stick save to keep Carter from scoring his second goal of the game, the puck went behind the net where Carter regained control of it. As Lundqvist was still lying down on the ice from the previous play, Carter passed the puck to Giroux who put home his 20th goal of the season from the bottom of the left circle.
Chances started coming in bunches for the Flyers ultimately leading to their third goal. After initially tipping a Braydon Coburn shot from the point, Daniel Carcillo fought to regain control of the puck and put a spin-o-rama backhander on net. Lundqvist, who was on his knees from the previous save, tried moving slightly to his left opening up just enough of his five-hole for Carcillo’s shot to slip through for his 4th goal of the year.
Displaying a great sense of urgency, the Rangers came out and provided strong offensive pressure early in the final period.New York’s hard work paid off with a fortuitous bounce. After some cycling in the zone, a Dan Giradi shot from the point caromed off the end boards and snuck in behind Boucher in the crease. As the puck moved from the bottom left to the top right part of the crease, Stepan was the benefactor of the bounce depositing the puck in the net for the Rangers’ second goal of the night. Stepan’s 16th goal of the season gave the Rangers a chance to tie up the game.
The final minutes of regulation consisted of end-to-end action with both teams providing several scoring chances. In an attempt to find the game-tying goal, the Rangers pulled Lundqvist. The move ended up backfiring as Kris Versteeg netted his first goal as a Flyer hitting the wide open net with a shot from just inside the red line next to the benches.
As the remaining forty-six seconds of regulation clicked off the clock, the Flyers celebrated a 4-2 victory over their divisional foes at Madison Square Garden.
After a soft opening goal, Boucher had another impressive outing. Highlighted with a beautiful glove/kick save combination on a Ryan Callahan in the second period, Boucher made 37 out of a possible 39 saves. He had quite the eventful third period as he momentarily injured himself after making an awkward leg save, then found himself on the wrong side of a lucky bounce. Boucher is now 15-6-2 on the season.
In an attempt to draw in more fans to the game of hockey, the Flyers visit to New York was a game that helped Hockey Day in America greatly. A day filled with non-stop hockey action, Hockey Day in America featured several games at 12:30 pm (including the Caps in Buffalo and the Red Wings in Minnesota) followed by the Blackhawks hosting the Penguins at 3:30 pm. The day will conclude with the Heritage Classic, an outdoor game where the Calgary Flames will host the Montreal Canadiens at 6 pm.
Notes: Blair Betts sat out with a finger injury he suffered in the loss to Carolina on Friday. Sean O’Donnell left the game in the 1st period with a lower-body injury. Wojtek Wolski’s first period goal was the first goal scored on Hockey Day in America. The Flyers are now 4-0-0 against the Rangers on the season and are 13-2-1 against their Atlantic division foes (PIT 3-1-0, NYR 4-0-0, NJD 3-1-1, NYI 3-0-0).