The first period kicked off fairly quickly. With Carter Hart still inactive with his injury, Alex Lyon got the start in goal and the Rangers started applying pressure on him and the Flyers defense. Newcomer Jackson Cates also had some decent ice time in the early goings, though wasn’t particularly notable in his debut.
Both teams started strong, but while the Rangers weren’t able to get something done on even strength, a costly penalty sent the abysmal Flyers penalty kill out against a Rangers power-play who has had their way with them this season. And the Rangers struck paydirt quickly when a Artemi Panarin shot deflected off of Chris Kreider and behind Lyon to put the Rangers up one.
Oscar Lindblom didn’t seem to like that though, as within the minute he would score on a backhander that was anything but pretty. Jake Voracek seemed to be looking for a deflection, but Lindblom briefly grabbed the puck in the blue paint before it bounced off seemingly every body in the area except Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev to tie the game at one.
But it seems the goals came in bunches, as a little over a minute later Mika Zibanejad found Pavel Buchnevich in wide open ice, and Buchnevich fired it short side past Lyon to put the Rangers back on top and end the flurry of scoring. The goal could certainly be blamed on Lyon, but he didn’t seem to let it get to him, as his play after would be a big part of keeping the score close.
The second period was one filled with things to talk about, but very little that would show up on the score sheet. The Rangers got out to a fast start tallying up shots but unable to find twine. Worse, the Flyers couldn’t get the offense going for the early half creating the feeling of one of the lopsided losses against the Rangers early this season.
That was how the period seemed to go until the momentum pendulum swung back the Flyers way. After a maybe tripping, maybe interference against Sean Couturier went uncalled, Scott Laughton took the law into his own hands dropping the gloves with the Rangers’ Kevin Rooney. Not many blows landed before the linesman broke it up, but the fire seemed to resonate with the Flyers.
The Rangers got caught on two quick penalties shortly after the fight, sending the Flyers on a 5-on-3 powerplay with a chance to tie the game and do some damage. They did not, however. Shayne Gostisbehere certainly takes the brunt of the blame for the early failings, with a point shot skittering to the Rangers after a broken stick, and a failed keep at the blue line killing a good amount of the man advantage without much effort from the Rangers.
Then the Flyers jumped into gear getting a few decent chances, but as the first advantage ended a Giroux pass to the point got tipped sending the newly freed Filip Chytil in on Lyon all alone. Alex Lyon stood tall in the faux-shootout attempt, though he didn’t realize it, looking behind him for the puck as the Flyers defense picked it from in front of him to get one last shot on the powerplay.
Both teams came out strong in the third period. Lyon turned aside all the Rangers attempts through the first half, and the Flyers pressed hard but were still struggling to get anything past Georgiev. The energy shifted away from the Flyers as the Rangers established themselves in the offensive zone. The worries came true as the former first overall selection Alexis Lafreniere jammed the puck beyond Lyon as the goalie sprawled out, giving the Rangers a two goal lead.
Everything got weird real fast with seven and a half minutes remaining. Travis Konecny got wide open ice and flew in on Georgiev who sprawled out and made the save. K’Andre Miller then seemed to shove James van Riemsdyk into the goalie, taking them all out of the play. Justin Braun put a puck in on the empty net, but everything got waived off for interference. The whistle blew before the puck went in so the potential push was non-reviewable and the goal didn’t count.
Then Filip Chytil made me look real silly for complimenting Lyon’s earlier play. Chytil took a shot from a terrible angle aiming for the far side of the goal but only managed to hit Lyon’s glove. Lyon didn’t actually catch the puck mind you, as it popped off his hand and trickled in in a slow agonizing nail that put the Rangers up 4-1 and all but sealing the game.
And that was how everything ended. The Flyers dropped the second of the back to back in part due to Mika “The Flyer Killer” Zibanejad and the offense not being able to finish on any of their offensive chances in a long strong of games where the offense has not been there.
Oh, and one more thing. Either Madison Square Garden has weird microphones by the goals or Alex Lyon is really violent when he moves his stick, because the entire game was filled with “pings” from his stick on the post that had me snapping my head up at the game even though nothing was happening. Is it important I mention that? No, probably not. But JJ and Jonesy were just as confused as I was, so it seemed fair game.
The Flyers should have a fairly easy schedule coming up playing four straight against a bad Devils team. The first matchup is in Philadelphia this Sunday, as the Flyers will look to finish the season with some pride.