Flyers Make it Five Straight with 4-1 Win over Rangers
After four consecutive regulation victories, the Flyers took the Wells Fargo Center ice on Saturday afternoon with a chance to make a statement against the New York Rangers. Without Chris Pronger, many wondered how the team would respond against the blueshirts, who came in riding a three game win streak. The Flyers started sluggishly, but they turned on the jets in the third period to extend their own win streak to five games.
The two longtime rivals went back and forth in the first period, but the period was dominated by sloppy play and penalties. There was no score after the first, and the beginning of the second period wouldn’t change that. However, when Nikolay Zherdev took a terrible cross-checking penalty on former Flyer Steve Eminger seven minutes into the period it seemed like the Rangers would finally tally.
However, the Flyers killed their third penalty of the day, and as soon as Zherdev left the penalty box, he found the puck on the tape of his stick blade courtesy of Mike Richards. Richards said that he had heard goalie Henrik Lundqvist bang his stick on the ice to alert his teammates that Zherdev’s penalty had expired. Richards turned and fired the puck from one corner diagonally across the rink to the New York blue line. From there, Zherdev let his incredible offensive ability take over. He deked Lundqvist and easily scored backhanded.
With a one-goal lead heading into the third period, it was clear that the Flyers would have to put together a full twenty minutes to extend their winning streak. The Rangers came into Saturday’s matchup having won their last two games by overcoming 1-0 deficits. It was important for the orange sweaters to finish the job before New York could attempt their comeback.
It looked like that would be the case when Andreas Nodl found the back of an open net on the backend of a beautiful Claude Giroux pass. From his knees, Nodl delivered the all too important second goal but it had some unfortunate consequences for the Flyers.
Quite simply, the team took their foot off the gas pedal and suddenly the Rangers were gaining confidence by the moment. Eventually, the new defensive pairing of Sean O’Donnell and Oskars Bartulis found it difficult to clear the puck and Derek Stepan found the back of the net after a few grade A chances.
When Stepan found cut the lead in half, head coach Peter Laviolette had seen enough. Laviolette called timeout and tried to wake the team up out of their semi-slumber. His timeouts have worked wonders in the past, and this one was no different. Moments after the timeout expired, Ville Leino deflected a Kimmo Timonen point-shot in to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead at the ten minute mark. With a little less than five minutes left in the game, Zherdev sealed the defeat for his former team. He banked home a power play goal off of Lundqvist that close the game’s scoring.
At this point of the season, the Flyers need to continue to gain as many points as possible. After Monday’s home game against the Florida Panthers, the team takes a small break. Then, they will head to the west coast in what is always the toughest road trip of the season. It should be interesting to see how the team responds on the road for an extended period of time.
Hopefully, it ends up like their recent stretch of tough games. As victories.