Wrapup: Flyers Scratch Out Point in 3-2 SO Loss vs. Rangers
WRAPUP: FLYERS SCRATCH OUT POINT IN 3-2 SHOOTOUT LOSS TO RANGERS
The Philadelphia Flyers scratched out a hard-earned point in a 65-minute tie with the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center but lost a point in the standings. The Blueshirts won a shootout to take a bonus point in a 3-2 final at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Rangers now have a seven-point lead on the Flyers in the race for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia holds two games in hand.
Each team has beaten the other once via skills competition this season. Sandwiched in between the two shootouts, the Flyers (19-15-8) won a 3-0 regulation game from the Rangers (24-15-5) at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 28. Two more games remain in what has been a highly entertaining season series to date.
The Flyers are now 1-4 in shootouts this season; 35-66 all time. Win or lose, however, the skills competition remains an often anti-climactic and undesirable way to decide hockey games.
"The shootout sucks," Wayne Simmonds said. "I thought we played better for the better part of the game, I thought, myself personally, deserved better than the one point. That’s the way it goes sometimes. We just got to take the positives from today and look forward to tomorrow."
The Rangers were the better team for the first 25 minutes of Saturday's game, while the Flyers had the better of play over the final 35 minutes of regulation. Both teams had a golden opportunity to win the game in overtime but the match continued to belong to the goaltenders.
“We feel like we played a strong game tonight, we played hard like I just said. It’s a crappy way to lose definitely, in a shootout going down on player versus goalie, but it is what it is, and we have to find ways to get that extra point," Brayden Schenn said.
Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in net for the Rangers, coming up with 34 saves on 36 shots and then going three-for-three in the shootout. Steve Mason was also execellent, coming up with a host of tough saves from point blank range and through traffic as he stopped 29 of 31 during the hockey game. Mason was one-for-two in the shootout.
“They’re a good club at making sure they’re getting lots of traffic. They play fast. But again our guys have done a good job lately. Tonight was a pretty good carry over from our previous games. Overall I was pleased with everything but we would have liked to get the two points at the end of the day.”
Brayden Schenn and Simmonds (power play) scored for the Flyers. Lundqvist had no chance whatsoever on either goal.
For New York, J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider scored goals on transitional rushes. The latter goal was unstoppable, the former was an explosive shot from the left circle fron a shooter-versus-goalie spot where goals are scored in the NHL on a frequent basis. Along the way, Mason made a host of tough stops, especially during a 15-save first period in which New York had the better of play.
Special teams ultimately canceled out in the game. The Flyers went 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Philly won 55 percent of the faceoffs in the game (32 of 58). The Rangers blocked 30 shot attempts by the Flyers, while Philly managed 14 blocks.
“I do believe that we’re moving in the right direction [on special teams]," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. "I think our power play unit, we generated a lot of chances, but we can be better and we know that. To be able to get that goal in the third on the power play was huge for our confidence and hopefully we can get a goal in here.”
The teams traded off scoring chances at a breakneck pace for the first 10-plus minutes of the period. Mason alone had to make 10 saves in the opening 9:11.
“A lot of energy in the building at that point in time," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol.
"Both teams playing with a lot of energy so that’s the way the game started. I thought especially in that first ten minutes they really came hard and did a good job fore-checking pucks in our zone. We turned a couple over there but that’s an area that we cleaned up I thought as we got to the second half of the first period and then throughout the rest of the game.”
The Flyers grabbed an early 1-0 lead at 3:58. After an errant Chris Kreider shot bounded around the boards. Michael Raffl deflected a a Shayne Gostisbehere center-point feed on net and Sean Couturier claimed the puck to feed it across the crease to a momentarily wide-open Schenn. The puck went off Kevin Klein's stick courtesy of Schenn, who got just enough of Klein stick and then a piece of the puck to be credited with his 10th goal of the season. Couturier and Raffl got the assists on Schenn's 10th goal of the season.
“It hit [Kevin] Klein’s stick and it was kind of at the same time. I did get a piece of the puck and it did go in so, it was kind of one of those plays that was same time of contact," Schenn said.
New York had the game's first two power plays of the game. Mason made four saves on the first advantage but the Rangers cashed in on the second,.
With 3:52 left in the period, Miller received a stretch pass and beat Mason from the left circle for a power play goal to tie the game at 1-1. Ryan McDonagh and Lundqvist got the assists on Miller's ninth goal of the season. The game came on New York's 14th shot of the period.
Shots in the first period were 16-12 in New York's favor.Attempts were 25-23 in the Rangers' favor. New York blocked nine Flyers attempts while Philly blocked five Rangers' tries.
Mason made a tough stop off a double deflection at the 2:19 mark of the second period to keep the game, 1-1. Philly had no shots through the first 3:22 as they took an icing.
The Rangers scored a beautiful line rush goal to take a 2-1 lead at 4:48 after an initial turnover by Medevev. Kreider went to the net, took a perfect feed from Nash and chipped it upstairs over Mason. Derek Stepan got the secondary assist on Kreider's seventh goal of the season.
“I think that’s a essential team goal. There were three or four passes leading up to it. Playing like that we’re hard to play against. We’re playing fast, talking and supporting each other. Derek [Stepan] said if Rick hadn’t chipped that in; communication comes off of supporting each other," Kreider said.
With 11:57 left in the second period, play moved to four-on-four as Voracek was called for slashing and Dan Boyle for unsportsmanline conduct. Philly got a 24-second 4-on-3 power play as Dominic Moore held Mark Streit's stick after the defenseman received a pass from Giroux. The Flyers could not get possession during the 4-on-3 portion but generated a pair of good chances at 5-on-4. The second power play unit came out and could not create anything of note.
At 12:14, Stepan received an automatic delay of game minor -- after a conference by the officials -- as he batted an airborne puck in the crease over the end glass off a shot by Giroux that was nearly a goal. Lundqvist swallowed up a Gostisbehere center point shot 55 seconds into the Rangers' PK. Philly did little else with the advantage.
Gostisbehere stole a puck in the neutral zone and went in on Lundqvist, who denied the rookie's backhanded attempt at 18:53. Shortly after that, Couturier took the puck to the net but was at too sharp of angle to cut across the crease and was stopped by Lundqvist at the right post.
Shots in the second perod were 11-4 in the Flyers' favor, but the Rangers blocked 11 shots during the frame.
At 5:02 of the third period, a struggling Medvedev got caught on the wrong side of the puck and had to take a holding penalty on Nash. Philly killed off the disadvantage.
After a long delayed penalty, the Flyers went to their third power play on a Stepan high stick at 9:15. The Flyers turned it into the game-tying goal, taking advantage of a Rangers overload to Giroux's side.
Giroux fired a dart of a cross-ice pass to Voracek. With the Rangers' PK scrambling to reverse direction, Voracek fed across to Simmonds for a tap-in near the left post at 10:33. The goal was Simmonds' 12th of the season, assisted by Voracek and Giroux.
New York applied heavy pressure,but Mason fought off several pucks through traffic. Lundqvist then denied Simmonds on a counterattack. With 54.9 seconds left, Mason covered a loose puck in crease with a mass of humanity piling on top of each other. Time ran out in regulation as Giroux was receiving a pass-out from Voracek into the right circle.
Shots through regulation were 33-29 in the Flyers' favor; 10-9 Flyers in the third period. Play moved to three-on-three overtime.
On the first shift of OT, Mason made a critical save on Zuccarello as Voracek snapped his stick at the puck went right to the Ranger in point blank range.With 46 seconds left, it was Lundqvist's turn, as he stoned a wide-open Matt Read from about the same area.
With 10.8 seconds left, Gostisbehere high-sticked Brassard and the Rangers went to a 4-on-3 power play for the remainder of OT. Giroux won the faceoff, the Flyers cleared the zone and time expired.
Shots in OT were 3-2 in the Flyers' favor: 36-31 Flyers at the end of 65 minutes. With the hockey portion of the game completed, the contest was decided by a shootout.
Gostisbehere shot first. He went wide left, and was denied on a backhander moving right. Zuccarello turned Mason inside out and scored going around him.
Lundqvist did not bite on a deke, and Giroux was easily stopped on a wrister aimed for the five-hole. Boyle was denied by Lundqvist's skate.
Voracek missed the net and the bonus point went to the Rangers.
“You've got to take positives from it, I think. Coming back in the third period, it’s not easy," Mason said.
"We will look at it as a positive game, getting the big one point from it. It’s frustrating not coming away with two points. We had a decent effort; we could have been better I think. We showed a lot of character again coming back and getting a big point. So we’ll stay positive and put it behind us. Tomorrow’s going to be a great test as well. Tough place to go in and get two points out of there in Joe Louis [Arena].”
The Flyers immediately return to action on Sunday, playing the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. With the game being the second half of a back-to-back set, Michal Neuvirth could get the start in goal for Philadelphia.
SCHULTZ HONORED FOR 1,000TH GAME
Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz was honored before the match with a pre-game ceremony to honor him becoming the 301st player and 101st defenseman in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game mark in his career. Less than four percent of players in league history -- a total that numbers more than 7,000 players -- have reached the milestone.
Schultz's wife and children joined him at center ice as venerable NHL executive Jim Gregory, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and Flyers captain Claude Giroux presented him with a series of commemorative gifts, including an engraved silver stick.
Schultz dressed in his 1,000th career NHL regular season game on Wednesday; a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.
"It was special to have my family out there," Schultz said after the game. "I had a bunch of family and friends in on Wednesday for the game and obviously to have my wife and kids out there it was special. It was a nice little tribute and now we can move on and move forward."