Entering Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves with one goal remaining in the regular season. Stave off playoff elimination.
The Flyers are coming off a shutout of the New Jersey Devils last night 3-0, as they are looking for their fourth consecutive victory. They still trail the Boston Bruins by six points with four games remaining on their schedule.
In a frightening moment Saturday night, goaltender Michal Neuvirth collapsed in the crease during a faceoff. He was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital with what’s believed to be flu like symptoms. According to General Manager Ron Hextall he is doing ok.
Head Coach Dave Hakstol tried to energize the group last night for today’s game against the Rangers stating, “There was a lot going on here tonight. I really liked the way the guys stayed together and stuck with it.”
Whether if it was Hakstol’s words or if the Flyers were trying to win for Neuvirth, they took an early lead on a fragile Rangers team at home. However, the Rangers won the game 4-1, thus shattering the flyers playoffs hopes. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz did all he could making 20 saves, as he looked very sharp throughout the game.
With the Flyers dominating the Rangers early in the opening period, Brandon Manning took the Flyers first penalty of the night. The Rangers had four great chances on the ensuing power play, but Stolarz made all four saves keeping the game scoreless.
The Flyers continued their dominant play, as they were feeling motivated. This led to their first power play of the night. Tanner Glass took a charging penalty at 14:00 in the opening period. The Flyers power play could not find the back of the net. They managed three shots on net, but Henrik Lundqvist made the saves keeping the game scoreless.
The first period came to a close with the both teams playing well at different times throughout the period. The Flyers continued to be inconsistent on the power play, as they could not find the twine on their first power play. They outshot the Rangers 9-8, and won the faceoff margin 59%-41%.
With the Flyers playoff hopes on life support going into the second period, the feel good Flyers perseverance never seemed to fade. Early in the second period, the Flyers were looking to finally take the lead. Jimmy Vesey had trouble clearing the Flyers zone. Valteri Filppula took a backhand shot on net, and the puck found its way past Lundqvist for a 1-0 Flyers lead, just 33 seconds into the period.
The Flyers were clicking on all cylinders in the second period, until Valteri Filppula took a holding penalty. On the ensuing power play, the Rangers finally struck gold. Just 17 seconds into the power play, Mika Zibanejad scored on a slap shot through heavy traffic in front of the net. Stolarz had trouble seeing the puck, and this tied the game at 1.
Late in the second period, the Flyers were on their heels. The Rangers were looking to take control of the game. Brendan Smith took a slap shot from the point, and the puck found its way past Stolarz for a 2-1 Rangers lead.
With the Flyers struggling to maintain possession late in the first period, Michael Del Zotto took a cross checking penalty. The Rangers had just one shot on net, but Stolarz made the easy save keeping the score 2-1 Rangers.
Somehow the Flyers managed to escape the second period just down one goal. To no ones surprise, the Rangers outshot the Flyers 8-6 for the period, but the Flyers won the faceoff margin 51%-49%.
The Flyers were struggling to maintain possession early in the third period, and the Rangers made sure to take full advantage. Oscar Lindberg cranked a wrist shot from the top of the right circle with Stolarz making the easy right pad save. Lindberg found the rebound, and placed the puck past Stolarz for a 3-1 Rangers lead.
The Flyers continued to get beaten by an energized Rangers team. Chris Kreider took a blast from the point through traffic, with 10:50 remaining in the third period. Stolarz could not track the puck, and it found its way past him for a 4-1 Rangers lead. It was Kreider’s 28th goal of the year.
With the game appearing to end with a Flyers 4-1 loss, Shayne Gostisbehere took a slap shot on net. Brayden Schenn found the rebound, and placed the puck past Lundqvist for a 4-2 Rangers lead. It was Schenn’s 25th goal of the year.
Moments later Jakub Voracek took a slap shot from the left circle. The original shot hit the post, but Filppula found the rebound. Filppula beat Lundqvist on the short side, cutting the deficit to a 4-3 Ranger lead.
The Rangers outplayed the Flyers in the third period, and they came away with a 4-3 victory. The Rangers outshot the Flyers 24-23 for the game, but the Flyers won the faceoff margin 59%-41%.
Despite the loss to the Rangers the Flyers should feel good about themselves. They are finally getting consistent play in their game. The players knew the playoffs were a long shot coming into this game. However, the future is bright in Flyer land. There are many good young prospects in the system, and it will make this team prosper in the future.
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Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports