New York Rangers 4 Philadelphia Flyers 1
The New York Rangers started this game in a way they could have only dreamed possible. One of the biggest struggles the Rangers have had all season has been starting off games sluggish and sloppy, but tonight that was not the case. Former Philadelphia Flyer, Daniel Carcillo got MSG rocking when he scored a nifty backhand on Philadelphia Flyer’s goalie Ray Emery and that was only the beginning. 28 seconds later, Rick Nash scored off of a feed from rookie Chris Kreider at the 2:42 mark of the first period. At this point, it was all Rangers and coach Alain Vigneault was able to smoothly roll all four lines. After a great start to the game, Dan Girardi was called for a questionable interference penalty. The Rangers, as they’ve done so well this season, were able to kill the penalty off strongly. A minute or so after the Girardi penalty, Derick Brassard netted his 8th off the year with assists from Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot. Brassard almost got his second goal of the game, but it was quickly waived off due to a delayed penalty on the Flyers. Nicklas Grossman was calling off for holding, but the Rangers failed to convert on their first power-play chance. The Flyers proceeded to take another two penalties to end the opening period and left the Rangers with a brief 15 second five on three to start the second period. The Flyers did lead the Rangers in shots (17-13) at the end of one, but this was one of, if not the best opening periods the Rangers have had all season.
The Rangers failed to convert on their early power play chances, but dominated in shots and puck possession time early in the second period. A largely outsized Carcillo, got into his first scrap as a Ranger when he squared off against Luke Schenn in a very entertaining fight. The timing of Carcillo’s fight was questionable, but it didn’t appear to kill any of the Rangers momentum. Around the 10:12 minute mark of the second, Zuccarello was blanked with a brilliant save by Emery on a partial breakaway set up by Brad Richards. As Zuccarello was shooting, Mark Streit slashed him and was called for two minutes. The Rangers had yet another power play chance as Nicklas Grossmann boarded Chris Kreider and the Rangers finally cashed in on the power play opportunity. Kreider, who now leads the team in power play goals, put the Rangers up 4-0 and tallied his twelfth of the season with the lone assist coming from Richards. Henrik Lundqvist, with his recently re-found confidence, stopped 23 shots through two periods and helped the Rangers head into the second intermission with a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Rangers, before tonight, were 14-1-1 when leading after two periods and they set themselves up to be able to cruise through the third period with a four goal lead. Lundqvist started off the final frame of the game with a huge save on Brayden Schenn, who was left wide open in the slot. The Flyers carried most of the play through the first five minutes of the third period, but still couldn’t figure out Lundqvist. Benoit Pouliot, had the only early period chance when he broke through the Flyer’s defense, but couldn’t get a good shot through. Shortly after that, Zuccarello took a holding penalty a put the Flyers on their second power play of the night. Tye McGinn ruined Lundqvist’s shutout bid at the 6:49 mark in the third, with a power play goal. The Rangers started to play sloppy, as Ryan McDonagh took a holding penalty and put the Flyers right back on the power play. After killing off the third Flyers’ power play of the game, the Rangers still struggled to get anything going offensively. Despite a lack of offense in the third, Lundqvist stood tall the rest of the way (Flyers out shot the Rangers 15-7 during the period) and is finally starting to look like the Lundqvist of old. A mini-brawl broke out with a mere eleven seconds left, but the final buzzer eventually sounded and the Rangers defeated the rival Flyers in strong overall game. The Flyers have now lost seven straight at Madison Square Garden.
3. Daniel Carcillo – one goal
2. Chris Kreider – one goal, one assist
1. Henrik Lundqvist – stopped 37 of 38 shots
The next Rangers game is Tuesday, January 14th, as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers now sit tied with the Capitals for second in the Metropolitan division.