Henrik Lundqvist had 32 saves as he led the way for the New York Rangers' 2-0 win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
Brad Richards netted the game-winning goal in the first minute of the second period, while Carl Hagelin scored his first career NHL goal.
Sergei Bobrovsky, after getting the win yesterday against the Montreal Canadiens, suffered the loss despite saving 30 of the Rangers' 32 shots. The Flyers' inability to score today extends their goal-less streak to 80:06 dating back to the Claude Giroux with less than 6 seconds in the second period yesterday.
Tensions were high entering the game, due to the Wayne Simmonds/Sean Avery alleged racist/sexist insult incident in the pre-season and all the hype surrounding the impending Winter Classic.
To address such intensity, Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust only 4 seconds after the opening faceoff. Rinaldo ended the bout with his jersey covering his face, but he held his own against the New York pugilist.
Shortly after the fight, the first scoring chance of the game came via a Scott Harnell breakaway. Lundqvist denied the attempt.
After the scoring chance, multiple players started jawing after the whistle which led to coincidental minors for Simmonds and Prust.
The two decided to scrap once they exited the penalty box, engaging in a fight where both participants landed good punches.
The tension seemed to lessen over the remaining minutes in the first period, as the Rangers controlled most of the offensive chances in the first twenty minutes. Despite being outshot 12-7, the Flyers defense didn't break, keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard.
To start the second period, the Rangers tried to cheat their way to a goal. After being decked by Braydon Coburn in the crease, Ryan Callahan set up a screen which enabled Richards to slide the puck over the goal line with his glove.
The play was initially counted as a goal, but the situation was shipped up to Toronto, and after they looked at the replay, made made the right call keeping the game scoreless.
The Rangers put the puck in the net shortly after the Richards gaffe, but this time it was legal. As Andrej Meszaros was still in the box for his elbowing call from the first period, Richards ripped home a slapshot from the top of the circle to Bobrovsky's left eluding Callahan, who was once again screening the Philly netminder. Richards' eighth of the season gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 54 seconds.
Richards' goal was part of a period where the Rangers outshot the Flyers 10-6 and entered the third period with a 1-0 lead over Philly.
Five minutes into the third period, the second goal of the game was scored and it put the Flyers in a two-goal hole with only 15 minutes left.
Ryan McDonagh fired away from the left point and the rebound found Hagelin, who was standing in the slot alone right in front of Bob. After putting a backhander on Bob, Hagelin's second chance bounced up in the air and to the left of the Flyers' net. Bobrovsky was still looking around when Hagelin batted the puck into the cage just before it hit the ice.
The final fifteen minutes saw a slew of shots from Philly, but not too many scoring chances. Lundqvist was forced to make several saves, but none of the spectacular variety were needed as the Rangers won the first of six against their perennial rivals.
One has to wonder if Peter Laviolette is trying to send a message by starting Bobrovsky today. After starting yesterday's game less than 24 hours ago, the obvious choice for today would have been Ilya Bryzgalov.
Is Laviolette trying to make Bryzgalov work harder and focus better in his next game so he won't be pulled again? Bobrovsky is hot, as of late, but most times goalies don't start back-to-back games on consecutive days. There has to be a reason behind the decision.
Notes: The Flyers have lost three straight to the Rangers (0-2-1) and have been out scored 12-2 in that span…Saturday marked the first time the Flyers have been shut out all season long. The Atlanta Thrashers hung a 1-0 defeat on Philly at home last March 31…The Flyers have been shut out back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden (7-0 loss on March 6th)…This was the first time the Flyers didn't allow a first period goal since last Thursday's 2-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes…Prust's 12 PIM is the most he's recorded in a single game since he posted 15 PIM against the New York Islanders on March 31…The Flyers out hit the Rangers 19-7 in the first period…The Flyers have given up the first goal in each of their last five games (2-3-0)…The Flyers fell to 2-1-1 against the rest of the Atlantic Division this season (PIT 0-0-0, NYR 0-1-0, NJD 1-0-1, NYI 1-0-0).