Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash each registered two goals tonight, as the New York Rangers handed the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-2 loss at Madison Square Garden. Henrik Lundqvist recorded the win with 23 stops, while Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek were the only two visitors to beat New York’s goaltender this evening. The loss snaps Philly’s two-game winning streak.
The Flyers came out and dominated the first segment of the third period, but couldn’t beat Lundqvist to gain the lead. After the Blueshirts avoided the Flyers’ flurry in the beginning of the period, Nash came down the ice and ripped a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov’s blocker and right leg pad with a low far-post wrist shot. Nash’s first of the night was the eventual game-winner with 17:10 left in regulation.
Nash put the game away for New York when he put home a breakaway chance after he was hooked in the game’s final nine minutes. Kimmo Timonen hooked Nash’s right arm, which would have led to a penalty shot, but since Nash made a move on Bryzgalov and beat Philly’s goalie for his second of the night the penalty shot didn’t occur.
The visitors applied pressure throughout the rest of the contest, including a sequence of chances in the game’s final minute where several players were down in the crease and the Flyers produced several shots, but Philly couldn’t record another goal to suffer the 4-2 loss on the road.
“We look at the record, but we can’t be looking at it every time we’re .500 or down, or have that one goal to be .500,” Claude Giroux said after the frustrating defeat. “This third period was good, but not good enough. We made a couple of mistakes. It is just frustrating to see that we played a good game, but can’t finish with the two points. We need to find a way to motivate ourselves whoever the other team is.”
“We gave up a goal at the end of the first period. That can’t happen,” Simmonds said after the game. “The second period, I think it was a defensive battle for both sides. Third period, we blinked first. We didn’t play as well as we could have. That cost us the game.”
The Flyers found themselves in a position similar to what they were in when they last visited Madison Square Garden, as the Rangers jumped out to the early lead.
After he drew a holding call out of Timonen 69 seconds into the contest, Callahan deposited the first goal of the game shortly afterwards to hand New York the lead. Derek Stepan was near the bottom of the circle to Bryzgalov’s right when he threw a pass cross ice to Callahan. With Bryzgalov sprawled out, Callahan put home his sixth of the season 1:30 into the affair.
The Blueshirts held on to the advantage until Simmonds finished off a beautiful passing play on the power play to even the score at one.
With Stu Bickel in the box for elbowing, Voracek started the scoring play with a pass from along the boards to Lundqvist’s left all the way over to Giroux, who was on the opposite side of the ice. From the circle to Lundqvist’s right, the captain tossed it to the top of the crease, where Simmonds tipped it past Lundqvist to make it 1-1 7:18 into the game.
A little less than 10 minutes later, Simmonds returned the favor to Voracek, as he set up the former Columbus Blue Jacket for his 10th tally of the campaign.
After Timonen battled to keep the puck in at the point, the blue liner flicked the disc into the corner to Lundqvist’s right, where Simmonds jumped up to catch it for possession. Simmonds quickly threw it from the bottom of the circle to Lundqvist’s right to Voracek, who was just on the other side of the slot. Voracek put a wrister on Lundqvist that produced a rebound that came right back to the forward for a power-play goal, a power play that Philly gained due to Voracek’s ability to back check and draw a holding minor out of Nash in the neutral zone.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, a turnover in the final minute of the period resulted in Callahan’s second goal of the frame to make it a 2-2 game after 20 minutes.
Simmonds was unable to reach a pass in the neutral zone, which allowed Ryan McDonagh to grab control of the puck at New York’s blue line and launch it up ice to catch Philly in a line change. Callahan caught the pass and skated into the zone to Bryzgalov’s right. Moving the puck from his backhand to his forehand, and moving from right to left on Bryzgalov, New York’s captain dunked it past Bryz to tie the contest with just under 41 seconds left in the stanza.
“Anytime you let in a goal in the first minute of a game or the last minute of any period it gives the other team momentum,” Scott Hartnell said after the loss, something the Flyers almost did twice in tonight’s first period.
In the second period, each team registered six shots on net, but neither team could grab their third tally of the match.
The Rangers held the Flyers to only one shot for the majority of the frame, but the Orange and Black made a push late in the stanza to nearly gain the one-goal advantage. The team’s closest chance came on a rebound from a Danny Briere shot in front that bounced to Brayden Schenn at the top of the crease with Lundqvist out of position. Unfortunately for the younger Schenn, he tried to quickly change from his forehand to his backhand, but accidentally pushed the puck away from himself.
After Nash’s pair of goals in the third period, Hartnell and Bickel earned 10-minute misconducts on a scrum with just under three minutes left in regulation.
Hartnell tried to hit Nash along the boards in front of New York’s bench, but missed. After Hartnell missed, his momentum carried his upper body into the Rangers’ bench, where Micheal Haley grabbed the back of the Flyer’s head. Irritated by Haley, and probably the score, Hartnell took a swing at Haley. In defense of his teammate, Bickel, who was on the bench, stood up and punched Hartnell in the face.
The Flyers will look to return to the win column on Thursday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Notes: Tonight was the Flyers’ second straight loss to the Rangers and their 10th loss in the clubs’ last 11 meetings. The Rangers’ streak of dominance started with their 7-0 win at MSG on March 6th, 2011…The Flyers have lost six straight games against the Rangers at MSG. Their last win on the road against the Rangers was their 4-2 decision on February 20th, 2011…Nicklas Grossmann left the game after the first period due to a lower-body injury. He had one hit and two blocked shots in 5:52 TOI…Mike Knuble returned to action tonight after he missed the last two games as a healthy scratch. He didn’t have a point or register a shot on net in 8:57 TOI…Tonight was the first game Harry Zolnierczyk missed due to his suspension. He received a four-game suspension for his charging major on Mike Lundin on Saturday in the Flyers’ win over the Ottawa Senators…Along with Zolnierczyk, Eric Wellwood and Kurtis Foster were also scratches for Philly. The trio of Arron Asham, Matt Gilroy, and Brad Richards, who was the victim of Patrick Kaleta’s boarding major on Sunday, were scratches for New York…All seven of Nash’s goals this season have come in the third period…Darroll Powe had four hits and one blocked shot in 13:34 TOI tonight for the Rangers…The Flyers dropped to 1-2-0 against the Rangers this season and to 3-5-0 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (PIT 1-1-0, NJD 0-2-0, NYR 1-2-0, NYI 1-0-0).