Rick Nash had two goals, one of which was his 300th in the NHL, and an assist, while Derek Stepan had three assists to bolster a career-high four-point performance as the New York Rangers dumped the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Brad Richards and Chris Kreider also lit the lamp. Henrink Lundqvist cast his spell once more, making 32 saves as New York picked up a crucial road win in its own race for the postseason.
Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek picked up painful scores as the Orange and Black failed to advance their cause for a playoff spot to kick off a five-game homestand. Ilya Bryzgalov didn’t put together a solid 60 minutes, giving up all five goals on 31 shots.
The Flyers had trouble getting the puck out of their own zone this evening and failed to put any kind of pressure on Lundqvist for the majority of the night. The Rangers had no problem cycling in the Flyers’ zone and the hosts couldn’t string three passes together, as the sloppy loss in front of the home crowd is another blow to the Flyers’ playoff hopes.
“I didn’t like the way we competed on the puck defensively,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said about his team in the first period of tonight’s loss. “Not much life in the third period.”
Despite being outplayed for the majority of the second, the Flyers did manage to make it a two-goal game late in the middle frame due to a power-play tally from Simmonds.
With Brian Boyle in the sin bin, Scott Hartnell started a scoring chance by slipping a pass behind his back from the slot to Claude Giroux in the circle to Lundqvist’s right. The captain ripped a shot off the post that bounced to Voracek in the opposite circle. Voracek had the puck bounce from him to Simmonds, who tipped one by Lundqvist for his 11th of the campaign. After a brief review the goal stood to send the Flyers into the final period down 3-1.
In the third period, Voracek cut the deficit in one of the most unique and painful ways possible.
A Giroux slap shot from the top of the circles hit Voracek up high and forced the forward to stumble to the ice before he grabbed his face. Fortunately for Voracek, the puck managed to get past Lundqvist for his 14th of the year. He was fine after lying on the ice for a few minutes and didn’t miss any time due to the incident.
The surge from the Flyers and their fans was short, as Nash put home his second of the game on a wrap-around attempt just 1:42 after Voracek’s goal.
Chris Kreider potted his second of the year later in the period to finalize the score with 7:47 left in regulation, where he worked a give-and-go with Michael Del Zotto before sliding a shot into a half-open net. Bryzgalov had gambled that a chance would come from the opposite side and lost.
When asked where his team can go from here, Laviolette provided a simple answer. “There’s nowhere to go but the rink tomorrow and to get ready for the next game.”
After spending most of the first period in their own zone, the Flyers managed to escape with only a one-goal deficit, as Nash was the lone Ranger to find the back of the net.
The Orange and Black were aware of the situation heading into the game, as every point is crucial in their desperate chase for the postseason. However, the Flyers seemed to be trapped in their own end for the majority of the night and had issues doing the simple things.
Stepan found the leading scorer in Blue Jackets history in the circle to Bryzgalov’s left. With the puck, Nash moved closer to the slot and ripped a wrist shot past Bryz’s right shoulder from just inside the circle to the goalie’s left for his milestone goal with 5:06 remaining.
The Blueshirts nearly potted another goal seconds after Nash’s tally, but a handful of saves from Bryzgalov kept the deficit at one.
Philly provided some of its own offensive pressure later in the first period, but the Flyers still entered the middle stanza down by one. New York outshot the Flyers 15-12 in the first 20 minutes of competition.
The Rangers then made it 3-0 early in the second period on goals from Richards and Stepan.
With Simon Gagne in the box for holding, Richards slapped one over Bryzgalov’s glove as he crouched to see through a screen to make it 2-0 at the 3:14 mark. Del Zotto stood between the boards and the circle to Bryz’s right before he tossed a pass to Stepan at the point. Stepan one-touched a pass to Richards, who ripped one home from the top of the circle to Bryzgalov’s left.
Less than three minutes later, Stepan altered a Nash shot from the top of the circles and grabbed his own rebound to put it past Bryz for his 10th of the year. Since Stepan essentially blocked Nash’s shot, Bryzgalov was out of position for Stepan’s backhander into the open net.
Philly will look to rebound from the defeat on Thursday, as they host the New York Islanders.
Notes: During the pre-game skate, all the skaters on the Flyers wore jerseys with the name Timonen and the number 44 due to Kimmo Timonen taking part in his 1,000th NHL game last week…Out of his 301 goals in the NHL, Nash has 12 with the Rangers…With a goal and an assist tonight, Richards reached 800 points in the NHL… The Flyers dropped to 1-3-0 against the Rangers this season and to 4-8-1 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (PIT 1-2-1, NJD 1-3-0, NYR 1-3-0, NYI 1-0-0)…The Flyers dropped to 13-17-2 with the loss. They were 20-8-4 last season after 32 games.