A slow start and a series of failed special teams’ opportunities in the second period hurt the Philadelphia Flyers tonight in their 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Callahan had the eventual game-winning goal, as Henrik Lundqvist had 26 stops in the Flyers’ first loss of the season to the Rangers. Kimmo Timonen had Philly’s lone goal, which came a power play in the third period.
The Flyers came out flat and didn’t seem to be there mentally tonight. Even after they recovered from their slow start, the Orange and Black still had trouble connecting on wide open passes in all three zones and made it easy for New York with numerous unforced turnovers.
The turning point of the game came halfway through the middle period. After the Flyers failed to convert on a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, the Rangers scored on a power play that followed.
After Brad Richards was sent to the box for holding, Derek Stepan joined him in the sin bin 43 seconds later after he flipped the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. Despite having a two-man advantage for 1:17, the Flyers couldn’t even the game at one.
“We have to be more hungry,” Danny Briere said after the loss. “The 5-on-3 got us. It’s something we’ll have to look at. Their goalie is so good. You need a great shot to beat him.”
“We certainly had our chances,” Mike Knuble, who had two shots on net, said after the tilt. “It’s the little things. We started to wear them down, but couldn’t cash in. They are a great shot-blocking team. We were passing up some good opportunities. The 5-on-3 was a turning point.”
With some momentum after the penalty kill, the Blueshirts enjoyed a power play of their own when Max Talbot was hit with a tripping minor on Michael Del Zotto 1:03 after Stepan exited the penalty box.
New York needed only 29 seconds to make it a two-goal lead, as their captain converted on the special teams’ situation.
Rick Nash controlled the puck at the top of the slot and let a shot go, which found its way to Del Zotto at the side of the cage. After the pinching defenseman threw a shot at the net from Ilya Bryzgalov’s right, the goaltender allowed a rebound to sit in the crease. Callahan jumped on the loose puck quickly and went backhand-forehand for an easy slam into the open net.
This was Callahan’s high of the night, while his injury in the third period was his low. In a scrum in Lundqvist’s crease, the tandem of Callahan and Talbot skated away from the group into the corner for a scrap. The bout didn’t last long, as the pair fell to the ice rather awkwardly. Since Talbot had a huge chunk of Callahan’s jersey in his hand, the fall to the ice seemed to hurt the Rangers’ captain’s left arm.
“We were holding each other up and his shoulder popped out or something,” Talbot said after the game. “It was unfortunate. I let him go. I kind of felt it, but then I saw his face as well.”
After the Flyers controlled play for the first several minutes of the final period, a bad line change by the Rangers led to a too many men on the ice minor and a visitor’s power play.
A huge puck battle in the corner to Lundqvist’s left resulted in Wayne Simmonds throwing a pass to Timonen, who had all kinds of time in the slot. Timonen took more than a moment to decide where he wanted his shot to go before he launched a wrister past Lundqvist’s glove to make it 2-1 with 12:51 left in regulation.
After the Rangers responded to the tally with some pressure of their own, the Flyers started getting more chances, which lead to two more power plays in the game’s final 8:48.
Unfortunately for Philly, they couldn’t find the equalizer. Even with several chances in the final minute, which all came with Bryzgalov on the bench and after Briere took what looked to be a high stick along the boards, the Flyers still left MSG with a loss.
It’s hard to ask a goaltender to do much more than what Bryzgalov did tonight. Bryzgalov, who had as many saves as Lundqvist, allowed a goal from the point through traffic and a power-play goal beat him, but he also had several crucial saves to keep the affair close.
The first goal that beat Bryzgalov came just 1:57 into the contest. Del Zotto let go a shot from the point that managed to go untouched through heavy traffic in front of Bryz, as the blue liner found some space between the near post and the goaltender’s right leg pad. Bryzgalov reacted to the shot late, as Del Zotto potted his second of 2013.
The Flyers look to snap their two-game skid with a road game in Washington on Friday against the Capitals.
Notes: The Flyers have lost eight of their last nine meetings against the Rangers…Andreas Lilja played in his first game this season. He was minus-1 with three hits, three blocked shots, and one giveaway in 9:38 TOI…The Flyers are 0-5-0 when trailing after one period this season…Briere recorded 10 shots on net, which ties a career high. He had 10 shots on net last as a Buffalo Sabre on March 9th, 2007…Zac Rinaldo had five hits and two PIMs along with a blocked shot in 6:20 TOI…Claude Giroux was the only Flyer to have a takeaway tonight, as he had a pair of them…Callahan’s goal in the second period was his 200th NHL point…The Flyers dropped to 1-1-0 against the Rangers this season. Philly is 1-3-0 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (NJD 0-1-0, NYI 0-0-0, NYR 1-1-0, PIT 0-1-0).