Rangers' playoff hopes take a hit with 4-2 loss to Flyers
PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Richards took it hard. Most of the Rangers didn't stick around last night to answer questions after their 4-2 loss to the Flyers. But after the locker room had emptied, there was Richards, the veteran center, with his head down and slumped in the corner.
The 0-for-5 power play, Richards had said, "was terrible . . . probably not what we needed this time of year." A night without a point didn't help, either.
The Rangers had won 11 of their previous 12 against the Flyers, but backup goaltender Steve Mason stalled the Blueshirts' desperate drive for the postseason, making 38 saves in his first start at Wells Fargo Center.
The Rangers (21-17-4, 46 points) fell into a tie for eighth place in the East with Winnipeg (22-19-2), which beat Tampa Bay in a shootout. The Rangers, who have six games left, have a game in hand on Winnipeg.
"You can't find yourself down 2-0 that early, especially at this point of the season," Ryan Callahan said. "We let two points slip away."
Coach John Tortorella didn't quite agree.
"In the first, we had a lot of good chances," he said. "They only have two or three, they score two goals, but I thought we kept on coming, we just couldn't solve Mason."
Down 3-1, the Rangers turned up the pressure. Derek Stepan scooped up Callahan's blocked shot and scored his 15th goal at 7:28 of the third, but it wasn't enough. Mason injured his right leg, and at 7:23 of the third was examined and stayed in to record his first win since his acquisition from Columbus. Jakub Voracek's empty-netter with 13.8 seconds sealed it.
"It's a tough loss for us," said Lundqvist, who made 18 saves. "Every night is a big game now, we don't have much left and we have to approach every game as if it's the last game of the season. Every point now can be the difference, in or out."
Early in the second, Mats Zuccarello had cut the Rangers' deficit to 2-1 from the left of Mason at 2:54. It was his first goal in nine games since he returned from the KHL.
The Rangers survived one Flyers power play, when Ryan McDonagh was off for interference at 6:58. But with Ryane Clowe in the box for boarding at 9:42, the Flyers restored the two-goal margin at the 10-minute mark. Claude Giroux won a faceoff from Richards, and Kimmo Timonen's slap shot beat Lundqvist.
As they have done so often, the Rangers fell behind in the first.
At 9:28, the Flyers scored on their second shot. Brandon Manning's shot was blocked, but the puck came to the left post, where Brayden Schenn was waiting.
Sean Couturier's cross-ice pass to the right circle found an open Erik Gustafsson and his wrister beat Lundqvist at 17:21 to make it 2-0. Voracek went off for hooking at 17:36, but the Rangers' second power play came up empty, as they continually tried to force centering passes, which were broken up.