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Lundqvist comes up big again in win over Flyers

New York Rangers' Artem Anisimov,center, celebrates with Sean

New York Rangers' Artem Anisimov,center, celebrates with Sean Avery (16) and Ryan Callahan after he scored against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period. (December 19, 2009) Credit: AP

PHILADELPHIA - Henrik Lundqvist has been referred to in many deferential ways during his 41/2 seasons as the Rangers' goaltender. "Leader," however, hasn't really been one that's high on the list, even though "savior" has been used often.

But Lundqvist's two sharpest games of the season, Thursday on Long Island and Saturday in snowy Philadelphia, have coincided with the Rangers' most desperate time. He was almost perfect in the Rangers' 2-1 win over the Flyers, making 28 saves in the final two periods to give the Rangers back-to-back wins for the first time in a month.

"I think he understands where we are as a hockey club right now, some of the things that are going on around it, and I think he's trying to be a leader," coach John Tortorella said. "He's certainly stepped up and made some key saves for us at key times in these last couple wins."

The Rangers (16-16-3) were the aggressive team that Tortorella wants them to be through parts of the opening 40 minutes, and a hard forecheck and being strong on the puck led to goals.

Chris Drury zipped off the bench, intercepted a weak pass by the Flyers' Claude Giroux and snapped a shot past Brian Boucher just 5:16 in.

It was Drury's second goal in as many games since being dropped to the fourth line. He played 15:13, bouncing around to any position that would get him on the ice. "Whatever he says, I'll go out and try to give my best," Drury said.

But the first of four straight minor penalties in a 14:09 span killed the Rangers' momentum for a good while. Enver Lisin, under instructions to be more physical, decided to toss Chris Pronger against the end boards on an icing call. Pronger made the penalty count when his wrist shot floated through traffic and beat Lundqvist high to the glove side at 8:13 of the first to tie the score.

After the Rangers killed off the last of the penalties early in the second, they went back to work in the Flyers' zone and came away with the lead.

Artem Anisimov, whose strength on the puck and play away from it is drawing notice from Tortorella, used his size to keep Flyers defenseman Oskars Bartulis off him, circled the net and flipped a backhand that caromed off Ryan Parent's leg and in at 4:46.

From there, it was Lundqvist's show. He stopped rookie James van Riemsdyk twice in the third on golden chances, once with his stick on a rebound from in close, the other with his shoulder on a wrist shot off the rush. Scott Hartnell bowled over Lundqvist in the third; he popped up, unfazed.

The final 10 minutes were harried, but Lundqvist didn't give up the tying goal, finishing with 36 saves to go with the 35 he made Thursday in beating the Islanders.

"This week, we're playing teams that are in our spot - they're desperate," Lundqvist said. "You have to be able to match that desperation. The last two games, it's been good."

New York Sports