PHILADELPHIA - Circle March 14 on the calendar. That's when the Flyers and marked man Daniel Carcillo visit the Garden.
Carcillo, now fourth in the league in penalty minutes, infuriated coach John Tortorella and many of the Rangers last night for dropping the gloves with leading scorer Marian Gaborik and landing several blows on the forward, who had had one fight in his eight-year career.
In the wake of the 2-0, 24-save shutout by Ray Emery that snapped the Rangers' winning streak at two games, the No. 1 topic was Carcillo, who wasn't immediately punished by a Blueshirt for his transgression. Sean Avery did drop the gloves with him with a minute to go in the period.
Vinny Prospal called going after Gaborik "gutless.'' Henrik Lundqvist called it "disrespectful.'' Carcillo, Lundqvist said, "'doesn't look that smart to me. We'll remember this for sure. He should be ready for it.''
After Tortorella was told after the game that Carcillo said he was "licking his chops to get after Gaborik,'' the coach, who screamed at the Flyers' bench after the incident, said: "Wonderful. He's a brave guy.''
Asked if some Ranger - Dan Girardi was nearest - should have immediately taken a third-man-in penalty, Tortorella said: "That's between me and the team. That's been addressed, but that's between the coaching staff and the players.''
Asked about the shouting, he said, "I was frustrated because there's simply no honor in it. I sit behind the bench with a suit and tie on; I'm not trying to run anybody down. I just think there's simply a lack of honor there.''
It was a tense postgame scene. Earlier, with the cameras rolling, Tortorella refused to answer a question from a reporter about risking a third-man-in penalty, touching off an argument that apparently stemmed from a column about Wade Redden's recent fight.
Lost in the controversy was the fact that the Rangers were stymied by the Flyers in the neutral zone. "They were sitting on the red line and we couldn't get around them. We just couldn't complete passes,'' said Marc Staal, who was in the crease when Mike Richards' long shot bounced off his skate past Lundqvist on a power play with 2.5 seconds left in the second period to make it 2-0 while Gaborik was in the box for slashing Richards. James van Riemsdyk converted his own rebound off a breakaway at 15:10 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.
But the key moment clearly came with 5:43 gone in the second period, away from a scrum in front between Brandon Dubinsky and Ole-Kristian Tollefson, when Carcillo and Gaborik scrapped.
"He got a few shots in on me,'' Gaborik said. "He's one of those players who runs around and doesn't really care. Avery definitely got back at him. He got me a little bit off my game. We play them six times, every game is a battle against them, and that's the way it's going to be the rest of the year.''
Things turned chippy after that. Erik Christensen went back at Jeff Carter with a high stick to the throat. With 7:24 left, Scott Hartnell - who earlier had drawn four minutes for bloodying Michal Rozsival with a high stick - drove Avery down with a few punches in front. And three seconds into the third, Aaron Voros scrapped with Arron Asham.