Good afternoon hockey fans! Welcome to a Sunday afternoon of Rangers hockey!
The Rangers enter today's action in ninth place in the East, three points behind Boston for the final playoff spot, while the Flyers sit in a sixth-place tie with Montreal at 76 points. With just 14 games remaining in the season (and only six at home), the Rangers know they need to amass points in nearly every game.
“It felt like do-or-die almost,” said Henrik Lundqvist (pictured) after he made 29 saves in a 5-2 defeat of the Thrashers Friday night. “We had a really good feeling going in, I think everybody felt ‘It’s today or we might have to’…I don’t even want to think about it.”
For King Henrik, it was his 27th win (10th best in the league), but more importantly it snapped the Rangers' four-game losing skid, including a 6-3 loss to the Devils on Wednesday when the goaltender was benched after allowing three goals on 17 shots in 35:19. He was replaced by Alexander Auld that night.
Today's game is the Rangers first against the Flyers since a fight between Philly's hit man Daniel Carcillo (175 penalty minutes) and Gaborik, New York's leading scorer, in Philly's 2-0 win on Jan. 21. At the time, Rangers coach John Tortorella called Carcillo's move "embarrassing," as fighters generally don't throw down with superstars.
But Tortorella changed his tune yesterday, saying revenge has to go on the back burner with key points on the line. Said Torts: "This team is focused on trying to play the best it can be and trying to get two points. A lack of discipline one way or another where you sit in the box where they have a really good power play -- I'll just speak for our team -- it can't happen. It can't happen. So we are just focused on trying to be the best we can be come Sunday afternoon and find a way to beat this club."
The Flyers are coming off a 3-2 victory at home over the Blackhawks yesterday in which all five goals were scored in the third period, including Chris Pronger's game-winner with 2.1 seconds to play. Scott Hartnell tied the game for Philly, which has won three of four and eight of 11 since Feb. 8, with 2:04 to go.
Said left winger Simon Gagne, who scored his sixth goal in seven games: "You don't see [coach Peter Laviolette] smile too often. It was pretty funny when we scored. We all hugged each other and the bench fell on the coaches. Maybe that's why he was laughing."
Philly has a talented offense, led by Jeff Carter's 32 goals and 26 assists, but they are also known for their tough-guy mentality, as they led the league with 1,134 penalty minutes.
In net, Michael Leighton will make his 14th straight start. He was claimed off waivers after starter Ray Emery went down for the season with a hip injury, and has been outstanding for Laviolette's club. He has a 17-8-2 record with a 2.77 goals against average. Yesterday, he stopped 41 of Chicago's 42 shots.
Okay, that's all for now. But we've got plenty more to talk about this afternoon, so let's get the conversation going in the chat box above! And be sure to vote on the poll questions.
I'll be back after each period with updates.
We're about 10 minutes from hockey on MSG!
End of the first period: Flyers 1, Rangers 0
Go figure, Torts preaches not getting penalties and the Flyers score a power-play goal after Olli Jokinen goes to the box for slashing. Daniel Briere put it home for his 24th score of the year, including eight on the power play, with Matt Carle getting his 25th assist of the season.
Michael Rozsival also got whistled for interference, but the Rangers killed off that penalty towards the end of the period.
The Rangers failed to get a shot on goal on their power play, which they received after Aaron Asham's high stick. They had just four shots on Leighton in the entire period.
Here are some first-period stats...
Shots: Flyers 7, Rangers 4
Hits: Rangers 16, Flyers 12
Faceoffs won: Flyers 9, Rangers 8
Saves: Lundqvist 6, Leighton 4
End of the second period: Rangers 2, Flyers 1
The Rangers have some swagger after that period.
Then he was whistled for interference on the same play Chris Pronger was given two minutes for roughing. A Lukas Krajicek cross check turned a 4-on-4 into a 4-on-3 for the Rangers, and Rozsival capitalized with a hard slapper off the left post to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 4:54. It was Rosy's third goal of the season on assists from Christensen and Chris Drury.
Christensen's two assists give him 12 on the year, Drury has 15 and Redden has 11.
The Rangers went on the power play after James van Riemsdyk's 2:00 goalie interference penalty and again after Scott Hartnell threw a couple punches at Avery, but the Flyers killed off both penalties.
The Rangers killed off Callahan's holding the stick call earlier in the period. They are 1 of 4 on the power play, and Philly is 1 for 3.
Here are the stats after the second period...
Shots: Rangers 16, Flyers 13 (the Rangers outshot them 12-6 in the second period)
Hits: Rangers 26, Flyers 23
Faceoffs won: Rangers 17, Flyers
Saves: Leighton 14, Lundqvist 12
That's the end of the game, as the Rangers defeat the Flyers, 3-1. The Rangers have won two in a row for the first time since before the Olympic break.
Rangers: 31-29-9 (15-15-6 home)
Flyers: 36-28-4 (15-16-2 road)
Scores by period for the Rangers: 0, 2, 1
Scores by period for the Flyers: 0, 1, 0
Here are today's three stars...
1. Avery: after his one-game benching, came back to score his ninth and 10th goals of the season. He scored the game-tying goal in the second and iced it in the third.
2. Rozsival: eventual game-winning goal in the second was his third of the season.
3. Lundqvist: 17 saves for his 28th win of the season.
Also, Drury (16) and Christensen (12) each had two assists.
The Rangers are currently within a point of the idle Bruins for the eighth spot in the East.
Okay, that's all for today's game. Thanks to all for coming out!