PHILADELPHIA — Judging from the happy visitors’ locker room after the Rangers’ 3-0 win over the Flyers on Sunday afternoon, although the Rangers are playing out the string, these aren’t exactly meaningless games.
This one certainly wasn’t meaningless to Pavel Buchnevich, who, with one shot late in the first period, got his 20th goal of the season and the 100th point of his career.
Nor was it meaningless to forward Ryan Strome, whose 18th goal, with 2.6 seconds left in the first period, gave him a career high.
And while he downplayed it, the game had to have some meaning to backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, who made 29 mostly routine saves in earning his second career shutout and second of the season.
“It’s a great feeling, but the win feels better,’’ he said when asked about the shutout. “Because the first one, I got it out of the way, so I’m just happy we got a ‘W’ today.’’
The Flyers, who were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, not surprisingly didn’t play with any urgency. They failed on four power plays (all of them the result of penalties taken by Rangers forward Brendan Smith) and lost for the fourth time in five games and seventh in 10.
“This was — ‘easy’ would be the wrong word — but this was a lot more manageable game for him,’’ coach David Quinn said of Georgiev, who made 44 saves in Friday’s 4-2 victory over St. Louis. “I thought we defended a lot better tonight; we looked a lot more structured. There wasn’t anywhere near the amount of running around we were doing [against] St. Louis. We did a pretty good job defensively, but [Georgiev], obviously, stood tall when he needed to.’’
Buchnevich, who scored for the second straight game, wasn’t around in the postgame locker room because he took a hard hit when he and the Flyers’ Nolan Patrick accidentally ran into each other in the third period. But Quinn said Buchnevich is fine and that he was happy to see him reach the milestone.
“This is a guy that’s got a lot of talent and has come a long way in the last four months,’’ said Quinn, who has scratched him four times this season. “I’m just really happy for him . . . It’s just fun to watch people grow and become better.’’
Center Mika Zibanejad, Buchnevich’s linemate and friend, smiled at the thought of Buchnevich hitting 20 goals for the first time in his career.
“I told him right after I got 30 [Wednesday in Boston], I was not going to shoot once before he gets his 20th,” Zibanejad said. “It was nice to get him to 20 . . . He’s been working really hard the last couple months here, and really, I think, has taken another step in his game.’’
Notes & quotes: Brady Skjei scored the Rangers’ third goal at 7:39 of the third period. It was his seventh of the season . . . Brendan Lemieux was scratched. “He’s played a lot of minutes,’’ Quinn said. “I think his game has slipped a little bit. It’s really been a drastic change for him since he came over from Winnipeg, so I just felt it was in his best interest to sit him out and put him in [Monday against the Devils].’’ . . . John Gilmour and Connor Brickley were the other two scratches . . . Quinn was not happy with Smith taking four penalties in the game (no other Rangers player was penalized). “You don’t ever want to see a guy take four penalties,’’ he said. “But I really want to watch the penalties again. Sometimes things happen. But four is a little bit excessive.’’