The Philadelphia Flyers visited Madison Square Garden on Thursday night to take on the New York Rangers after a three-day break. This was Philadelphia’s first visit to Manhattan since their embarrassing 9-0 drubbing back on March 17th. The Flyers started off their final slate of regular season games with a bang as they defeated the Rangers 3-2.
New York came out of the gate firing as they tested Brian Elliott very early on, but the Flyers goaltender was able to keep the Rangers off the board. It was very evident that the team was experiencing yet another slow start and they were playing on their heels, but Elliott bailed out his team.
Philadelphia would respond with their own scoring chances but to no avail as the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin answered his own call of duty in the crease and kept the game scoreless early in the first period.
The Flyers would head to the penalty kill for the first time at the 7:50 mark of the frame after Phil Myers was called for slashing against Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers could not capitalize on the power play, but it didn’t take them very long after it ended to get on the scoreboard.
It took all of five seconds at even strength after the penalty was killed off for New York to take a 1-0 lead with 10:05 to go. Brendan Smith blasted home a booming slapshot past Elliott after a great setup from fellow defenseman K’Andre Miller.
The Flyers would earn a power play of their own with 6:13 to play in the period after Smith was sent to the box on an interference minor against Claude Giroux. They entered tonight with a power play that’s only clicked at a 10% rate in their last four games and were looking to try and end their woes with the man advantage.
Unfortunately, as the theme has been this season, Philadelphia would not score on their power play opportunity. Not only were they held scoreless on it, but they gave up two 2-on-1 rushes and got called for a penalty of their own to abbreviate the power play and put themselves in a brief 4v4 situation before killing another penalty.
Elliott and the Flyers were able to stave off another flurry of Rangers shots and scoring chances and soon enough the buzzer sounded for the first intermission. The Flyers were lucky to only be down one goal, largely based on the play of their netminder.
The second period began with each team trading shots but none could find the back of the net as the goaltending was on full display with Elliott and Shesterkin trading saves.
At the 7:12 mark of the frame the Flyers would get another power play opportunity after Nicolas Aubé-Kubel was held by Chris Kreider, but New York would once again fend off Philadelphia’s power play and they would take another penalty during a man advantage. Travis Konecny was whistled for hooking on Smith and the Rangers would get 1:43 of power play time after a very brief 4v4 period.
The best save of the period came with 9:46 left as Elliott robbed Artemi Panarin after Panarin recieved a great pass from Ryan Strome. Panarin had a wide open net but Elliott stuck his glove out and robbed Panarin to keep the game at 1-0.
13 seconds into another power play, Philadelphia finally broke through on the scoreboard with 4:04 to go in the middle frame in rather unorthodox fashion. Konecny wristed a shot from the top of the right circle and the puck caught James van Riemsdyk square off the jaw area and it bounced across the goal line and in to even the game at 1-1.
Van Riemsdyk would leave the game in pain and headed to the dressing room right after his goal, but did come back out in the third period sporting a bubble facemask on his helmet, which was a great sight to see.
So 1-1 is how the second period would wrap up. The shots on goal were even at 25 apiece, but the Flyers had a 14-11 advantage in the second period and drew four penalties to New York’s one. Philadelphia was the better team and needed to show it again in the third period to win.
The Flyers continued to pressure the Rangers as the third period began and wore on. They were forechecking and making the Rangers work to keep the puck away from them and they forced a few turnovers as well.
A huge turning point in the game occurred with 11:46 to play in the final frame as K’Andre Miller was given a double-minor for high sticking against Sean Couturier. the Flyers would have a four minute man advantage after Miller’s stick drew blood from Couturier’s mouth.
The Rangers were able to kill the first two minutes, but 15 seconds later, Philadelphia made the Rangers pay again. It was once again van Riemsdyk out in front, this time using his stick to deflect home an Ivan Provorov point shot by Shesterkin and put the Flyers on top 2-1 with 9:31 to play.
The Flyers were not done yet, as Jake Voracek decided to join the party and broke in on a 2-on-1 with Claude Giroux against Rangers rookie Mac Jones, who was making his NHL debut tonight. Voracek skated in and as Jones went to try and take away Voracek’s lane, the Czech forward rifled home an absolute laser of a shot over Shesterkin and the Flyers took a 3-1 lead with 5:53 to play in the period.
The Rangers would not go away quietly, as they cut Philadelphia’s lead back to one goal after a Panarin one-timer that was set up by Adam Fox after a clean faceoff win in the Flyers’ zone with Shesterkin on the bench for the extra attacker. This made it 3-2 Flyers with just 2:00 to play in the period.
Philadelphia was able to hold off another late New York surge and the Flyers survived for a 3-2 victory over the Rangers in Manhattan.
3 STARS OF THE GAME: 1) Brian Elliott – PHI, 2) James van Riemsdyk – PHI, 3) Ivan Provorov – PHI
- James van Riemsdyk – van Riemsdyk potted two goals to lift the Flyers offensively in this one, including one off the face. He put together a real gutsy effort that had to be admired and he was the leader among the skaters tonight. He now has 16 goals on the season to reclaim the team lead from Joel Farabee and has three goals in his last three games after his previous 17 game goalless drought.
- Brian Elliott – Elliott stopped 33 Rangers shot en route to his 12th win of the season. He made some real key saves, most notably the glove stop on Artemi Panarin in the second period. Elliott has now moved into a tie for 12th in Flyers history in wins at 62 with Dominic Roussel and Antero Niittymäki.
- Ivan Provorov – Provorov racked up two assists and had a great game on both sides of the puck. He was finding ways to break up the Rangers’ possessions, he chipped in offensively, and he showed plenty of flashes of the Ivan Provorov we’re accustomed to.
- Slow Starts – The Rangers took it to Philadelphia early on and the game was pretty much a snooze-fest until the second period if you’re a Flyers fan. They have been plagued by slow starts all season and tonight they stole a win, but usually they haven’t been so lucky this year.
The Flyers are right back it again tomorrow night as they’ll play the Rangers in a rematch at Madison Square Garden at 7:00pm ET. Hopefully they come out with a little more energy but also get the same result as tonight.