Picture courtesy of NHL.com
This week’s NHL Game of the Week, saw the Philadelphia Flyers (30-19-10) versus, Metropolitan Division rivals, New York Rangers (27-28-5). The game of the week definitely did not disappoint. It was a game fueled by offense and a few career milestones for certain Flyers’ players. Today’s game saw Michael Neuvrith and Henrik Lundqvist start between the pipes for their respective teams. But, it was not a game that fared well for anyone in the goalie position. There was a total of 77 shots between the two teams, 40-37 in favor of the Rangers.
The 1st period was an absolute offensive show with the Rangers striking first. Kevin Hayes scored his 14th goal of the season 1:30 into the game. Ryan Sproul (2) sent the puck towards the net and Hayes was able to deflect it in picking up the assist. From that point on the rest of the period was back and forth. Jori Lehtera (4) made a nice play on JT Miller to keep the puck in the zone and Valtteri Filppula (15) dropped the puck off to Andrew MacDonald (4), where he sent the puck towards the net with a light wrist shot and scored (4:35). Lundqvist didn’t see the puck until it already went in. Then, just like the Flyers’ recent game saw Rick Nash (18) pick up a rebound given up by Neuvrith and scored on a backhand to make the lead 2-1 (10:54). Brady Skjei (16) and Pavel Buchnevich (21) picked up the helpers. The Flyers have been called “The Comeback Kids” several times throughout the years and the nickname proved to be true again. Right after Nash’s goal 12:11 in, Scott Laughton (10) redirected a shot from Ivan Provorov (18) to tie the game back up 2-2. With momentum building for the Flyers, they found themselves taking a faceoff in their zone. The Rangers won the faceoff but Claude Giroux was able to take the puck and skate up ice and have several other Flyers skating with him eventually getting the puck to Brandon Manning (5) who pinched in the zone and scored to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead. Giroux (48) and Konecny (18) picked up the assists. Shortly after the goal by Manning at 17:21 Peter Holland and Mats Zuccarello had a two on one and Holland (3) was able to get MacDonald and Neuvrith to commit as he passed to Zuccarello (10) and score to tie the game back up at 3-3.
Besides the back and forth action with the goals, there were also 3 fights in the period as well. Any time you have a divisional game, especially a high scoring game like this, there is always going to be a little animosity. It’s not a secret either that these teams do not like each other. The first fight was only 15 seconds in as Buchnevich put a hit on Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere didn’t take kindly to it and they went at it. The other two fights were 11:23 with Wayne Simmonds and Tony DeAngelo. Then at 12:14, with Dale Weise and Cody McLeod battling it out. Besides the fights, there was one other penalty the entire game which was a high sticking penalty on John Gilmour and the Flyers were unsuccessful with their only powerplay. The period ended 3-3 and the shots were 14-11 in favor of the Rangers.
The start of the second period began with some bad news for the Flyers as Michael Neuvrith left the game with a lower body injury so Alex Lyon was called upon to step in. Once again, the 2nd period started with an early goal, this time it was the Flyers scoring and getting the lead back 4-3. The 1st round draft pick, Nolan Patrick, scored his 6th of the year as he redirected a shot from Wayne Simmonds, Lundqvist made the initial stop but Patrick was able to pick up the rebound and put it top shelf. Simmonds (17) and Manning (7) both picked up the assists on this goal. Then the back and forth action came again when 5:47 into the period
Peter Holland scored his first goal of the year with helpers from Nick Holden (9) and Cody McLeod (2) to tie the game back up 4-4. This year the first line for the Flyers has been pretty dominate with Sean Couturier at center and Giroux and Konecny at the winger positions. Today proved why. Towards the end of the 2nd period, 15:40 in, Konecny accepted a pass from Giroux down low and curled out in front of Lundqvist, took a shot and scored his 15th of the season. Couturier (30) and Giroux (49) got the assists and continued the great chemistry and offensive production that this line has been able to produce. The 2nd period ended with the Flyers leading 5-4 with a shot total of 14-9 again favoring the Rangers.
The 3rd period wound up being the milestone marker for a few of the Flyers players. The first didn’t happen until 9:23 into the period and again coming from the top Flyers’ line. The Rangers turned over the puck in the Flyers’ zone which gave Konecny and Giroux a two on one advantage. Konecny (19) passed the puck to Giroux and he was able to bury the puck in the net for his 20th goal of the year. Not only that, it was Giroux’s 200th career goal as a Flyer. That goal gave the Flyers a 6-4 lead. The next one came a little after the Giroux goal at 12:46 into the period, which saw another two on one for the Flyers as Valtteri Filppula passed to Dale Weise and then Weise went to make another pass that found Jori Lehtera. Lehtera shot the puck and it went off of Ranger Peter Holland and went passed Lundqvist. It was Lehtera’s 1st goal of the season and 1st goal as a Flyer since coming over from St. Louis in a trade for Brayden Schenn. Both, Weise (4) and Filppula (16) got the assists on that goal giving the Flyers a 7-4 lead. The rest of the game was a lock. Lyon was able to keep the Rangers at bay. Only giving up 1 goal on 26 total shots gave him his 1st career NHL win and 1st win as a Flyer. The shot total for the 3rd period was 17-12 in favor of the Flyers.
The two teams play each other two more times and both games will be in Philadelphia. This was a crucial win for the Flyers as they try to climb the standings. Now with 70 points, they are 2 points behind the 2nd place Pittsburgh Penguins (34-22-4) with a game in hand. They are also 3 points behind the 1st place Washington Capitals (33-18-7). Although, the Capitals have one less game played than the Flyers.
The Flyers look to continue the push up the standings as they take on the Montreal Canadiens (22-29-7) at home. This will be the second of three meetings between the two teams. The first game was earlier in the month on February 8th, where the Flyers won 5-3. Can the Flyers’ offense show another dominant performance like they did today? Tune in Tuesday and find out!
Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor