The Flyers won 3-2 against the Rangers tonight, but it didn't end gracefully.
After going up 3-0 less than five minutes into the second period, the Flyers wouldn't score for the remainder of the game. It seemed as though the Flyers would skate out the clock after a couple minutes were played in the third, but the Rangers had different plans. Brian Boucher allowed a soft Wojtek Wolski goal and a hungry Rangers team capitalized on the momentum scoring less than 3 minutes later to make it a one-goal game.
Thanks to Boucher's overall play, though, Philly hung on to win despite the Rangers dominating the last 10 minutes of the game.
The game started off sloppy for the Flyers as they missed an early opportunity on the power play and weren't connecting on several passes. Despite the early rust, the Flyers got on the board first, roughly 6 1/2 minutes in.
Ville Leino would have the puck behind the net and sent it back to Matt Carle on a beautiful and unexpected spin-o-rama pass. Carle then wound up and his slapper was redirected by Carter in front of the crease slipping the puck by Rangers goalie Martin Biron.
Shortly after gaining the 1-0 lead, James van Riemsdyk would go to the box for goaltender interference. The Rangers had several chances on the advantage and created pressure after the man advantage but failed to convert.
That wasn't the case for the visitors, who would score shortly after their second power-play opportunity ran out.
While several Flyers were crashing the net, Leino would receive a pass from Carle and put it past Biron after kicking it to his skate. The Flyers would get one more great chance later in the period as JVR hustled to recover a puck in the New York zone and went in solo on Biron, who'd make the original save and block Carter who tried putting a rebound top corner.
The second period started with early chances by both teams. After a good chance by renowned pest Sean Avery coming down the wing and creating a rebound for his teammates, Claude Giroux would go up ice and set up Matt Walker for a shot from the slot that Biron saved. The Rangers would go on a powerplay 2 1/2 minutes into the period on a tripping call against Andrej Meszaros, but ended up increasing their deficit instead.
Thanks to a New York turnover in Philly's defensive zone, Giroux carried the puck down the right wing with Mike Richards on a 2-on-1. Giroux would flip the puck to Richards at the last second, and the captain lifted the puck over Biron for a shorthanded goal and a 3-0 lead.
The Rangers' frustration showed through in the next few shifts as a scrum broke out in front of Boucher and a line brawl took place to the Rangers' advantage. Kris Newbury would check Walker from behind, Brandon Prust scrapped with Darroll Powe, and Avery naturally took on Philly's toughest player in Carle. As expected, the calls would even out as it seemed the refs wanted to keep the Blueshirts in it for just a little longer. Being the resilient team they are, the Flyers would come down the ice and put pressure on for the next few minutes before a brief surge by New York. After New York's minute of pressure, the Flyers picked up their defensive pressure in the neutral zone and started causing turnovers that led to more offensive chances.
With about 4 minutes left in the period Avery would start trash talking Philly enforcer and former teammate Jody Shelley and of course didn't back up his word; he also threw a couple choice phrases at Richards before being taken off the ice when Rangers head coach Tortorella realized his uselessness. The period ended with the Rangers getting their best opportunities so far in the game but still behind three goals.
The final period started with the Flyers going on the power play due to a Prust hooking call a minute in. That was cut short as Meszaros would get called for hooking with 35 seconds remaining on the man advantage. It wouldn't make a difference as the Rangers still couldn't solve Boucher on the shortened power play.
The game seemed out of reach for the home team until Wolski ended Boucher's chance at a shutout with a bad angle shot halfway through the period. As he was gliding past the goal line, Wolski let go of a shot that hit off Boucher's leg pad and into the net. Rookie forward Derek Stepan would cut the lead to 3-2 with just under 8 1/2 minutes left as he was set up for an open net by former Norwegian Olympian Mats Zuccarello.
The Rangers would start buzzing shortly after with several scoring chances as the Flyers looked as though they may give up another three-goal lead in the 3rd period. However, after 8 minutes of frantic pace and unlimited offensive chances by New York, the Flyers escaped with a one-goal triumph despite being outshot 10-3 in the 3rd period.
Carle helped the Flyers get the early lead as he got assists on both first-period goals. He created a shot that Carter could easily deflect in front and gave the puck to an open Leino in front of the net. Leino also helped the Flyers jump out to the 2-0 lead after 1 period with a goal and assist. Giroux created several chances on the night, but only one resulted in a goal -- which happened to be the game-winning score.
After not allowing a goal for 49:13 of the game action, Boucher ended up allowing two goals in a 2:24 span midway through the 3rd period, but still picked up the win after saving 34 of 36 shots on the night.
Both of these traditional rivals never fail to bring the violent aspect of the game to the forefront when they meet up and Sunday was no exception.
After a first period that involved JVR running over Biron, the second period showed a cheesed-off Rangers team attempting to get back into the game through fighting. Thanks to Avery, two mismatches ensued on the ice as Avery dropped the gloves with Carle and Shelley talked with Brandon Dubinsky. To nobody's surprise, Avery demolished Carle and then talked trash to the Flyers' bench.
Rangers fans will most likely point out last year's incident of Marian Gaborik forced to hold on desperately while fighting Dan Carcillo being similar to this incident between Avery and Carle.
The two scrapes are different for several reasons. Last year, Gaborik initiated the whole situation and was the first one to drop his gloves while tonight's fight was clearly instigated by Avery. Another difference was in last year's fight Carcillo stopped once Gaborik went down to the ice (like one is supposed to) while in the Avery/Carle fight Avery kept swinging away at Carle while he was already prone on the ice.
Notes: This game was the first start for both Boucher and Biron in the season series...The Flyers have won four straight against the Rangers dating back to last year's season finale...Richards scored his third shorthanded goal tonight tying him for top spot in the league with Carolina's Matt Cullen, Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders, Giroux, Brad Marchand of Boston, and Prust...Giroux's assist on Richards' score gives him 5 shorthanded points on the season tying him with Prust and Matt Cooke for most in the league...The Flyers are now 12-1-1 against divisional rivals this season (Pittsburgh 3-1-0; Rangers 3-0-0; Islanders 3-0-0; Devils