PHILADELPHIA — The post-Thanksgiving Day recipe for the Rangers? Resilience, resourcefulness and toughness.
That’s what they were counting on to grab two points Friday after Wednesday night’s blowout loss at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We had the right mindset. We were pretty much ready to go a day ago,” J.T. Miller said after Henrik Lundqvist rebounded from a shaky start with 40 saves — 19 in the third period — in the Rangers’ 3-2 victory over the Flyers in a nationally televised matinee.
Now 5-0-1 in games following a regulation loss, the Blueshirts scored twice in a spirited first period that featured their first two fights of the season, including a left-hand kayo of Brandon Manning by Chris Kreider, who had been challenged by the defenseman with two seconds to go in the period.
“We held our own,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “We didn’t back down. We know this is a hostile environment; it’s always been. I want us to play whistle-to-whistle and play hard, but at the same time, I know that as a team, we’re going to stand up for one another. I didn’t expect anything less.”
The Flyers scored twice in the third period to trim their 3-0 deficit — one with goalie Steve Mason pulled — but the Rangers survived. “Hank played great,” Marc Staal said. “They were in our end a lot in the third, and those saves in tight, he stood tall and kept us in there for sure. It was nice to see.”
Tempers rose in the first. Travis Konecky jumped Brandon Pirri after his shoulder-to-shoulder hit on Manning and the two received two-minute minors and five minutes for fighting at 8:58. Konecky, deemed an instigator, also received a 10-minute misconduct.
Players appreciated the battles. “Pirs [Pirri] was physical and stood up for himself, and any time you see Kreids do that, I love that,” Miller said. “He’s always engaged, but when he does stuff like that, it’s great.”
The Rangers (15-6-1) scored twice between the scraps.
Miller knocked down Scott Laughton’s pass attempt to Manning behind the Flyers’ net, recovered and found Derek Stepan in front at 13:16.
After Lundqvist, who allowed four goals on 17 shots in the 6-1 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday night, made a point-blank save on Matt Read, the Rangers countered. Jimmy Vesey charged down the right side and feathered a pass to Matt Puempel, racing to the net, and Puempel beat Mason glove-side for a 2-0 lead at 14:40.
The key for Lundqvist on Friday? “Awareness,” he said. “What I lacked in the second period against Pittsburgh. I really worked through it. I think the most important thing is not to overreact. There’s definitely stretches where I feel like I’m not playing the way I should. A lot of it’s just focus, it’s not technique. I rely on reading and making decisions, and when it’s a little off, you might not make that extra save.”
Mark Streit’s turnover, a clearing pass that went right to Nick Holden at the point, helped the Rangers to a 3-0 lead at 12:33 of the second period. Holden quickly angled a pass to Kevin Hayes alone in front and he tipped the puck over Mason for his 10th goal.
The Flyers capitalized on a bad change and lucky bounces to score twice in the third, but the Rangers later boarded a northbound train having rebounded nicely from Wednesday.