PHILADELPHIA -- After the Rangers rallied to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, at Citizens Bank Park Monday, veteran Mike Rupp was a popular guy, and not only in the locker room. The 6-5 Rupp, more of a grinder than a rifleman in his 10-year NHL career, was trending worldwide on Twitter with the hashtag "Winter Classic sniper."
"That's a good agent right there," Rupp said.
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The 31-year-old forward, who missed 22 games this season with a knee injury, scored twice to bring the Rangers back from a 2-0 deficit before Brad Richards scored the game-winner 5:41 into the third period. But the drama wasn't over. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist sealed the win with a pad save on Daniel Briere's penalty shot with 19.6 seconds to play in the NHL's fifth annual outdoor game before 46,967 fans.
"When it started snowing in the second period, it was awesome," said Lundqvist, who made 34 saves. "The way we bounced back, and the finish . . . All the buildup was worth it."
Rupp, who played in last year's Classic with the Penguins before signing a three-year contract with the Rangers, sparked the comeback against the Flyers, who were 18-0-1 when leading after two periods this season.
Rupp snapped the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky at 14:51 of the second period, just 30 seconds after the Flyers took a 2-0 lead. He beat Bobrovsky short-side with a high shot from the left circle to tie the score at 2 at 2:41 of the third period.
Before the game, Rupp told teammates it was important for them to score first, given the deteriorating ice conditions that he experienced last year at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. "At least he made up for the speech by getting us back in the game," said Richards, who awarded Rupp the Broadway hat, given to the team's MVP after a win.
"We needed one last ditch of emotion to try to get in the game; 20 minutes and this experience was over," Richards said. "Rupper scored that big goal to give us life. Once you make it 2-2, you just feed off that energy and emotion."
Richards cashed in a rebound of Brandon Dubinsky's shot, but the Flyers had their chances to tie. With Philadelphia buzzing in the final minute, Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in the crease, resulting in a penalty shot that Lundqvist disputed.
"I stuck out my right leg there to the post, then I heard the whistle and the ref. I couldn't believe it," he said. "It would have been tough to swallow that one if he scored. He's tricky. I thought if I make the first move, he'll score."
Said Briere, who was chosen by Flyers coach Peter Laviolette to take the penalty shot: "Seeing it go in was all I was thinking about. Unfortunately, I tried to surprise him with a quick little shot, but he's one of the best on shootouts and breakaways. It's disappointing, it's frustrating. I take full credit for this one."
The two points gave the Rangers (24-9-4) a four-point lead over the Flyers in the Atlantic Division. They are 3-0 against Philadelphia. It again proved there is no home-ice advantage outdoors; the away team has won four of the five Classics.
Said Rangers GM Glen Sather: "I didn't think it would come down the way it did. You could see three or four calls that were enough to blow your mind."
Rupp, who gave a Jaromir Jagr-like salute after his first goal, took a higher road. "It wasn't a Game 7, it was two points,'' he said. "At the same time, it was a cool thing . . . I'm going to remember that my kids were here to be part of it."