Rangers give Flyers big-time payback
Callahan's four goals, Lundqvist's shutout highligh 7-0 romp at The Garden
|Rangers alternate captain Ryan Callahan and goalie Henrik Lundqvist both had a lot to smile about after the Blueshirts' 7-0 trouncing of the Flyers in which they were the game's two brightest stars.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
For the first time this season, the Rangers wore their road white sweaters for a home game on Sunday, perhaps looking to capture the magic they have achieved on the road this season and bring it with them to Madison Square Garden.
The Blueshirts more than received the desired result they were seeking, routing the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 behind Ryan Callahan’s career-best four-goal, five-point performance and Henrik Lundqvist’s league-leading ninth shutout.
“You could feel that it was like a playoff game here today, the crowd was definitely into it,” said Lundqvist, who made 24 saves. “And it was a good win. We needed this one badly here at home before going out on a road trip.”
In every aspect of the game, the Rangers were better than the Flyers on Sunday. They scored on the first shift of the contest and never looked back, playing an exciting brand of physical hockey that prompted several standing ovations from the appreciative Garden Faithful.
“We need the building to be rocking here,” said Lundqvist. “It was a great atmosphere.”
Callahan opened the scoring just 51 seconds into the game as the Rangers set the tone for Sunday’s contest with a tenacious forecheck led by Brandon Dubinsky. It was Dubinsky’s outstanding puck control behind the Flyers’ net that set the stage for Callahan’s goal when Dubinsky slid the puck into the low slot, off of Callahan, and into the net for a quick 1-0 lead.
“Our starts haven’t been great here at MSG so a lot of emphasis was put on that and right away we got in there, were banging bodies, controlling pucks, Dubi holds on to it down low and we bang one in,” said Callahan. “That’s how we are going to have success down the stretch, getting the greasy goals.”
|Rangers rookie Mats Zuccarello is congratulated by Ruslan Fedotenko and Michael Sauer after scoring the first of his two goals on Sunday. The goal at 5:06 of the second period put the Blueshirts up 3-0.
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Callahan’s second goal of the game ended up being a power-play goal even though it was Boyle who received an instigator penalty and 17 minutes worth of penalties in total for his fight with Shelley. However, Philly captain Mike Richards was whistled for slashing Lundqvist during the ensuing power play, eventually giving the Rangers a power play of their own once Boyle’s minor was up.
Callahan caught Flyers goalie Brian Boucher leaning toward the far side of his net where Marian Gaborik -- back in the lineup after missing six games due to a concussion -- was standing all alone. Callahan roofed the puck high into the cage at 12:58 to give the home team an important two-goal lead.
“Brian Boyle’s fight was another key situation for us,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “Boyle is a hitter and a big man, but he is not a big fighter in this game, but I thought he did a good thing. It’s those little things throughout the game that were very important.”
After Mats Zuccarello zipped a wrist shot between Boucher’s pads off a 2-on-1 rush 5:06 into the second period, Callahan notched his first career hat trick, and gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead, with his third goal of the game at 6:28. All alone in the left circle, Callahan calmly beat Boucher over the glove as The Garden erupted in a deafening roar and hats quickly littered the MSG ice.
“It was just an awesome performance for (Callahan), and to do it on national TV, I am really happy for the guy,” said Vinny Prospal, who chipped in with a pair of assists on Sunday. “It’s just an understatement how hard he works every game. And to do it in such a prime game, it’s such a great thing for him. He showed what kind of leader he is, and how important he is, to this team.”
Boucher was removed from the game by Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette following Callahan’s third goal -- surrendering four goals on 18 total shots. He was replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky who did a phenomenal job making sure the Rangers did not increase their lead before the second intermission by making a diving save on Gaborik and a stunning pad stop to rob a wide-open Callahan of his fourth goal with two minutes to play in the middle period.
|Rangers alternate captain Ryan Callahan beats Philadelphia goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for his fourth goal of the day at 4:20 of the third period.
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“Yeah, it was a big day for me,” said Callahan, who has 10 goals and 16 points in 16 games since returning to the lineup from a broken hand back on Feb. 1. “My first hat trick in the NHL, which is nice, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was an important win for us, and now we have to continue on with this.”
Callahan notched his fifth point of the game by assisting on Artem Anisimov’s breakaway goal --his 16th of the season -- with 5:19 to play in the third period. Zuccarello then closed out the scoring with his second goal of the afternoon---and sixth of the season -- with 1:13 remaining, giving him the first multiple-goal game of his NHL career.
The win was the first for the Rangers on Garden ice since their 4-3 shootout victory over the Kings on Feb. 17. They had dropped four in a row at home since then, despite continuing their terrific play on the road at the same time. Friday’s 4-1 win in Ottawa was the Rangers’ 20th on the road this season, while Sunday’s victory upped the club’s home record to 15-16-3.
As for why the Rangers wore their road white jerseys on Sunday, the players claimed not to have a clue and Tortorella said afterwards that he wasn’t going to explain why. No matter the reason, Callahan liked it, and the Rangers came away with another two crucial points in the standings.
“I love it,” Callahan said of wearing the white sweaters at home. “Home whites always. I don’t know why (the league) ever switched it. And I don’t know why we did it this way (Sunday). I just came in and it was hanging in my locker. But I liked the switch, though.”
With 74 points, the seventh-place Rangers now lead the eighth-place Hurricanes by three points and trail the sixth-place Canadiens by five in the Eastern Conference standings. They will have two days off before resuming action Wednesday in Anaheim against the Ducks, the start of a West Coast road trip.