Flyers surge past Rangers 7-4
NEW YORK (AP) — Pressed into action after Flyers starter Michal Neuvirth left with a lower-body injury, rookie goaltender Alex Lyon was confident at Madison Square Garden having played there before for Yale.
In his fourth NHL game, Lyon calmly went out over the next 40 minutes and made 25 saves for his first NHL win as the surging Flyers rolled past the slumping Rangers 7-4 on Sunday for their sixth win in seven games.
“It was good, fun building, great atmosphere and I can’t give enough credit to the guys,” said the 25-year-old Lyon, who signed with Philadelphia as a free agent in April 2016 after three years at Yale. “A first NHL win you can talk about for a long time.”
Travis Konecny scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period to provide the margin of victory. His 15th goal of the season at 15:40 snapped a 4-4 tie.
Claude Giroux and Jori Lehtera scored in the third to finish off the win, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist allowed all seven goals. Giroux’s goal was his 20th of the season and the 200th of his NHL career.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol expressed confidence that possibly having to go with Lyon in games ahead would be a welcome challenge for his club, which is just four points behind Pittsburgh for the Metropolitan Division lead.
“We’ve won games as a team. And we’ll continue to do that,” Hakstol said. “Whoever is in net for us will do a good job.”
The Flyers are 22-8-3 since Dec. 4, when they won at Calgary to end a 10-game winless streak. Philadelphia also extended their winning streak on the road to five games.
“In the third period, Alex made some big saves for us,” Giroux said. “He was solid.”
The Rangers have lost four straight games. They are 3-11-0 since beating Buffalo at home on Jan. 18 and 6-15-0 since downing the Sabres in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
“You give up seven, it’s not a good feeling,” Lundqvist said. “I have to be better. Obviously, there are a lot of mistakes.”
Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the first game the Rangers played at the current Madison Square Garden; on Feb. 18, 1968, a 3-1 win over the Flyers.
This game started in throwback Rangers-Flyers fashion with a fight at center ice between Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich and Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere just 15 seconds into the game.
There were two more bouts in the opening 20 minutes — a tussle between Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo and Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds and another between veteran fighters Dale Weise of the Flyers and the Rangers’ Cody McLeod.
Each team also scored three times in the first.
Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the early lead when he redirected a point shot by defenseman Ryan Sproul past Neuvirth. Hayes’ 14th goal of the season came at 1:30.
Philadelphia knotted the score at 4:53 when defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored his fourth of the season.
Rick Nash, the subject of trade rumors over the past several weeks, put the Rangers ahead 2-1 with his 18th goal at 10:54 when he tapped a rebound past Neuvirth. The 33-year-old Nash, whose contract expires after this season, is one point shy of 800 for his career.
Scott Laughton tied the score again at 12:11 with his 10th goal.
The Flyers went ahead at 14:53 when Brandon Manning rifled a shot past Lundqvist after a fine setup by Giroux.
The Rangers tied it yet again on a pretty goal by Mats Zuccarello after a slick feed from Peter Holland. The goal was Zuccarello’s 10th and only his second since Dec. 16.
Zuccarello, the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons whose name has also surfaced in trade rumors, was not pleased with his team’s effort.
“We were playing dumb defensively. We have to be better than that.” the 30-year-old Norwegian forward said. “It’s really, really hard right now.”
Philadelphia went ahead 4-3 at 2:01 of the second on a goal by rookie Nolan Patrick, his sixth.
New York tied it at 4 when Holland scored his first of the season and first as a Ranger at 5:47.
The matchup was the second of four between the teams this season. The Rangers won the previous meeting, 5-1 at the Garden on Jan. 16.
The Rangers have been in a freefall since early January. Now they face games without playoff-race meaning as the season winds down. That would be a first for the 35-year-old Lundqvist, who has made the postseason every year but one during his career that began in 2005-06. That was in 2010 when the Rangers missed out on the last day of the season in a shootout loss at Philadelphia.
“It’s terrible, absolutely terrible” he said of his mindset amid the ongoing slump. “You live for this.”
NOTES: The teams meet in Philadelphia on March 22 and in the season finale April 7. ... The Rangers continued to be without forward Chris Kreider who has missed 23 games with a blood clot in his right arm and injured defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk, Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh. ... The Flyers scratched forward Taylor Leier and defenseman Mark Alt.
Rangers: visit Montreal on Thursday.
Flyers: host Montreal on Tuesday.
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