A game that could have easily been a high-scoring rout in the Philadelphia Flyers’ favor ended up going the complete opposite way for the New York Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist bounced back from a poor performance against the Buffalo Sabres the night before to dominate the Flyers on national television. The Flyers had a high number of scoring chances throughout the night, only to run into a hot Lundqvist that would not be denied of his team getting the two points on their way out of Philadelphia.
The loss creates a complicated matter on the Flyers’ part, as they fall to a measly 1-5-2 since their 10-game winning streak. What complicates things even further has been the recent play of goaltender Steve Mason. After being stellar during their 10-game run, he’s falling back considerably as the team has struggled. It leaves the door open for Michal Neuvirth to return to the crease after his two-month absence because of a knee injury.
The first period was as electric as a scoreless period could be. It was back and forth hockey at its best, with both team’s equally having good scoring chances that were denied by great goaltending. The best chances came on a Flyers’ power play that really showed that Lundqvist came to play for the night. The Flyers had outstanding pressure from their first power-play unit that dominated during the entirety of their man-advantage.
4 big saves by Lundqvist on Flyers' crisp PP.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) January 5, 2017
Lundqvist put on a show in the final eight minutes of the frame, as the Flyers had the better scoring chances but were unable to find the back of the net. The game remained scoreless after the first period, with the Rangers outshooting the Flyers 9-8.
It wouldn’t take long in the second to finally open up the scoring, as Kevin Hayes would power his way to a finesse finish in front of goaltender Steve Mason. The Flyers continued to pressure, leading to both teams continuing to play entertaining back and forth action. Yet, it would continue to be the Flyers with the better high-area chances and Lundqvist who answered.
Lundqvist stops Schenn twice to keep New York ahead. pic.twitter.com/f3cJZ9xkDc
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) January 5, 2017
As the period continued, Lundqvist’s play on excellent Flyers’ chances would continue to mount almost to the point where the Flyers seemed like no matter what they did offensively, they couldn’t put the puck past Lundqvist. Philadelphia continued to pepper the Rangers’ net but to no avail. They would end the period leading the game in shots with a 20-18 advantage, but still 1-0 where it mattered.
Lundqvist has had many high-save total games vs Flyers over years but many have been games w mostly unscreened perimeter junk. Not tonight.
— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) January 5, 2017
The third period is where the Rangers, on the back of an unbelievable performance by Lundqvist, would begin to add to their lead. Mason fought through the first two periods admirably, but was unable to outplay his counterpart on the night, even despite the Flyers playing better than the Rangers through 40 minutes.
The Rangers’ Chris Kreider would strike first in the final frame, as Mason let a stoppable puck get past him. From there, the Flyers continued to press, but the Rangers would counter. After Claude Giroux turned over the puck in his own zone, the Rangers capitalized, as Michael Grabner scored to give the Rangers a commanding 3-0 lead.
Grabner capitalizes off the Flyers' turnover. 3-0 Rangers. pic.twitter.com/C7tPLT7dj4
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) January 5, 2017
The Flyers would eventually solve Lundqvist’s stone wall he built over the course of the game on a late power play goal by Jakub Voracek just past the midway point of the period, but by then, the game was out of reach. The Rangers regained a three-goal lead when Hayes beat Mason under two minutes later after the Flyers threatened to score, but the Rangers were able to counter-rush for the tally to make it 4-1. Voracek added his second of the night on a bomb of a shot with under three minutes remaining in the contest, but it was too little too late. Grabner added an empty-netter to make it a 5-2 game and secure two points. It was a big road win for the Rangers after an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Sabres just one night earlier.
Glen Stricker is a Temple University graduate with a degree in Media & Communication. He is the Lead Writer for the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers as well as the social media coordinator and contributor for @PHLFlyersNation