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Wrapup: Flyers Topple Rangers, 3-0

November 28, 2015, 6:46 PM ET [111 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
WRAPUP: FLYERS TOPPLE RANGERS, 3-0

Buoyed by a dominant performance by their second line and the shutout goaltending of Steve Mason, the Philadelphia Flyers snapped a 10-game regular season losing streak at Madison Square Garden as they blanked the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday afternoon.

Wayne Simmonds scored breakaway and empty net goals for the Flyers, bookending an assist on an early third-period insurance goal by Sean Couturier. Mason turned back all 24 shots fired on his net, including all 10 he faced in a difficult first period for the Flyers.

Philadelphia was the better team for the majority of the final 40 minutes. Antti Raanta played will in a losing cause for the Rangers, stopping 31 of 33 shots. He made several clutch stops to keep New York in the game as the Flyers started to take control.

Mason was the early story for the Flyers, as New York by far had the better of the play over the final 12 minutes of the opening period. He tracked the puck well in heavy traffic and made an alert poke-check on Dominic Moore to break up an otherwise uncontested scoring chance that probably would have been a goal had Moore been able to get the puck to his backhand.

The Flyers survived two first-period penalties that, for a time, left them with just three defensemen on the blueline. At the 10:48 mark of the first period, defenseman Nick Schultz was steamrolled by a heavy hit by New York's Dylan McIlrath. Schultz was injured on the play, drawing the ire of defense partner Luke Schenn and triggering a fight.

Schultz left the game with an upper body injury. He did not return. For his troubles, Schenn was tagged with 17 minutes of penalties, including an instigation minor and the 10-minute misconduct that comes with it. Late in the period, Radko Gudas took a needless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty behind the Flyers' net.

Surviving the penalties and getting back up to five defensemen gave the Flyers a lift. Evgeny Medvedev (25:52 of ice time) and Michael Del Zotto (who logged 29:20 of ice time) were nothing short of stellar, and they needed to be.

So did the Flyers' second line of Couturier, Simmonds and Matt Read. The trio typically leads the club in terms of offensive zone puck possession time at five-on-five but has rarely had anything to show for it. This time, after Raanta denied Simmonds once and Read twice on good scoring chance -- there was also a Simmonds shot deflected by Read that hit the post -- they finally broke through.

At 12:24 of the second period, Simmonds outworked a defender in the neutral zone, took a perfect feed from Read and went in on a breakaway, burying a forehand wrister over Raanta to give Philly a 1-0 lead. Read and Del Zotto got the helpers on Simmonds' fourth goal of the year.

The Flyers narrow lead held into the third period despite an 18-7 shot edge for the Flyers in the second period and a big disparity in scoring chances. It was now Raanta's turn to keep his team close as they struggled to get the puck up ice.

Impressively, the Flyers did not sit back on the lead at all in the third period. Offensively, they kept attacking and made good plays with the puck. Defensively, they bottled up the neutral zone and the slots. When the Rangers did get some puck possession time in the offfensive zone everything was held to the perimeter.

At the 3:06 mark, Couturier got to the net and was the first one to reach a 50-50 rebound of a Simmonds shot, stashing it home past Raanta for his second goal of the season (and the first he's put it with his stick). Simmonds and Scott Laughton got the assists.

Even when the Flyers were unable to convert a lengthy 5-on-3 power play in the third period, it did not phase them. When something did get through to Mason, he was flawless in making seven additional saves. Mason hasn't had muck puck luck this season or help from his goalposts but he and the Flyers caught a break on the one third period shot that did beat him as it clanked off the post and stayed out.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers, 12-7, in the final period. Simmonds punctuated the win with an empty net goal from the Flyers' side of the red line.

The Flyers are 4-2-2 over their last eight games, including back-to-back wins to close out an otherwise tough month of November (5-6-3). The Rangers, who had won 10 of 11 games, have now lost three games in a row in regulation.
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