Rupp Scores Twice, Rangers Hand Flyers Classic Loss

In a lineup that boasts Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan, it was Mike Rupp who hurt the Flyers most, as he scored a pair of goals in the Rangers 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park in the 2012 Winter Classic on a blustery Monday afternoon.

Richards potted the game-winner early in the third period, while Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers, who dropped their third game of the season to New York. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves on the night including all 10 of the Flyers’ shots in the third period — and saved the Rangers’ bacon in the final seconds by preventing Danny Briere from tying the game on a penalty shot.

Philly’s loss marked the fourth time in the game’s five-year history that the home team suffered the loss.

For the game-winning goal, Callahan passed the puck from behind the Flyers’ net to Brandon Dubinsky, who was standing at the bottom of the circle closest to the players’ benches. Dubinsky shot the puck and forced Bobrovsky to kick out an easy rebound for Richards, who was standing near the bottom of the faceoff circle opposite of Dubinsky. The veteran forward put home his 14th of the season to give the Rangers a one-goal lead 5:41 into the third period.

In the first minute of the game, Callahan rang the post to remind both teams that the fanfare was over and the game had started.

The Flyers’ first chance came with a Jakub Voracek shot that was laced towards the top corner on Lundqvist’s glove-side. The Swedish netminder dramatically gloved the puck to keep the game scoreless.

Shortly after Voracek’s shot, the Flyers forced the Rangers into a couple of icings before Giroux was denied on the game’s first breakaway.

Fighting with a Rangers’ defender to stay onsides, Scott Hartnell managed to tap the puck along the blue line to Giroux, who moved his way in on Lundqvist all alone. The goalie denied the attempt with a sprawling kick-save as he knocked the puck into the corner.

Moments later, Gaborik came down the boards along the penalty boxes and let go of a shot that just missed the top corner of the net by a couple inches.

Later in the period, Hartnell made his presence felt as he helped set up Kimmo Timonen for a blast from the point.

After nailing Ryan McDonagh behind Lundqvist’s net as well as starting a skirmish in the Rangers’ crease after the play, Hartnell fought to gain control of the puck in the neutral zone before passing it to Giroux in the offensive zone. Giroux then slid the puck to the point, where Timonen let go of a blast that forced Lundqvist into the splits before gloving down the shot.

Minutes after Timonen’s shot, the teams exchanged a pair of extremely close scoring chances.

Callahan nearly jumped on a loose puck in the Flyers’ defensive zone, but thanks to Andrej Meszaros’ the puck was forced into the corner.

After Callahan’s attempt was broken up, Jaromir Jagr dangled his way through the Rangers’ defense and provided a strong backhander low on Lundqvist. The shot was blocked by Lundqvist and into the corner.

With just over three minutes left in the period, the Rangers experienced the first power play of the game as Matt Carle was sent to the sin bin for slashing.

Thanks to Giroux, the Flyers’ penalty kill was abbreviated. After poke checking the puck away from Richards at the point, the Rangers’ forward got his stick tangled up in Giroux’s legs to draw a tripping minor.

As both teams’ power plays failed to convert on their opportunities, the game remained scoreless, which is the way the two teams entered the second period.

The Flyers out shot the Rangers 12-9 in a rather pedestrian first period.

The middle period started with scoring chances for both teams, but neither created chances that resulted in goals.

Philly received scoring chances from Harry Zolnierczyk and James van Riemsdyk, while the Blueshirts received a chance from Gaborik.

Later in the period, Dubinsky laid out Marc-Andre Bourdon in the Flyers’ defensive zone along the boards. Taking exception to the hit that happend before he touched the puck, Bourdon decided to jostle with Dubinsky, even after the puck left the Flyers’ defensive zone.

After the altercation, the Flyers started dictating play by cycling in the Rangers’ defensive zone for several minutes. In the midst of the offensive surge, the net was dislodged leading to a faceoff to Lundqvist’s right.

The faceoff led to a Carle shot from the point, which managed to find it’s way to Lundqvist through traffic. Producing a rebound to his left, Lundqvist unintentionally steered the puck to Schenn, who put home not only his first goal of the season, as well as his first as a Flyer, but his first goal in the NHL.

Giroux extended the Flyers’ lead 1:55 later with his 18th goal of the season.

Max Talbot brought the puck through the neutral zone with little confrontation before he passed it cross ice to Giroux in the slot. Moving in on net, Giroux put the puck on his backhand and roofed it past Lundqvist to make the Philly lead 2-0.

Within 30 seconds of Giroux’s mark, Rupp showed his scoring touch by ripping a shot from the slot past Bobrovsky’s glove for his second of the season to make it a one-goal game again. Rupp then saluted the Flyers’ faithful, a celebration that resembled a certain Flyer’s celebration who has registered 1,500 more points in his career than Rupp.

New York showed some offensive life for a few minutes, but the Flyers finished the period with the momentum as they carried the 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes.

It didn’t matter how much Philly dominated in the middle stanza, another Rupp goal forced the game into a 2-2 tie early in the third period.

Moving into the offensive zone and into the faceoff circle closest to the players’ benches, Rupp let go of a wrister that should have never snuck in between the near post and Bobrovsky’s right hip, but did for his second goal of the game and third goal of the season at 2:41.

The Rangers didn’t relinquish momentum from Richards’ goal until later in the third period, when McDonagh was called for a delay of game minor for dislodging the net with just over five minutes remaining.

In the middle of the man advantage, the Flyers whacked away at a puck that was loose on the side of the net before the ref blew the play dead as Lundqvist flopped on the ice out of position.

Philly failed to convert on their first full power play of the day, but they did receive some luck later in the game while both teams skated four-on-four.

While Timonen and Callahan were in the box for coincidental minors, the Flyers were awarded a penalty shot.

Briere managed to whack at the puck from the left post, and though it trickled behind Lundqvist, the disc stayed out of the net as McDonagh clearly covered the puck on the goal line with his glove.

The diminutive Quebecer was the skater picked by Peter Laviolette to take the free shot, to the delight of more than 46,000 in attendance. Picking up the puck from the center ice, Briere moved in on Lundqvist and aimed towards the goalie’s five-hole. Lundqvist denied the surprisingly milquetoast attempt to keep the score 3-2 in favor of New York.

Despite a frantic final 20 seconds, the Rangers held on to hand the Flyers a 3-2 loss.

In addition to the fact they dropped to 0-3-0 on the season against the Rangers, the Flyers have come up empty twice in the NHL’s outdoor contest. It matters just as much as any other game, but the loss today stung a little more considering the Flyers are one of only two teams across the league to take part in two of the five Winter Classics and they have lost both games. Not only did they lose both games, but both losses came in frustrating fashion and beyond regulation. We can only hope the Flyers will exact revenge on the Rangers later this season by winning the remaining three meetings and stealing playoff seeding from their rivals.

The Flyers look to redeem themselves after today’s letdown with another home game on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Notes: The Flyers dropped to 0-1-1 in The Winter Classic…This is the Flyers’ first loss in regulation at home to the Rangers since their 2-1 loss on December 19, 2009 going 4-1-0 in their last five home games prior to today…Bobrovsky dropped to 0-2-0 on the season against the Rangers allowing five goals on 65 shots. It was his first loss since the Flyers lost 2-0 in New York on November 26th…Schenn’s first NHL goal came in his 18th NHL game…Braydon Coburn and Carle led the team with five shots on net…Jagr saw two shift in the second period due to a leg injury suffered in the first period…Today marked Rupp’s first multi-goal game since his hat-trick on November 30th, 2009…Brandon Prust had his first two-point game since his two-assist game on October 18 against the Vancouver Canucks…The Flyers dropped to 0-3-0 against the Rangers on the season and to 4-3-1 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (NYR 0-3-0, PIT 2-0-0, NJD 1-0-1, NYI 1-0-0).