Rangers get physical in Philly, but come up short
|Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist clears the puck away from an oncoming Daniel Briere of the Flyers on Thursday night. Lundqvist finished with 25 saves.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers went out on the road Thursday night and played a rugged, physical game in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, they were unable to recreate their recent scoring magic and were shut out by the Flyers 2-0 at the Wachovia Center.
In the previous two games, both played at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers totaled 14 goals in beating Montreal and Tampa Bay. Thursday night’s loss was the fourth shutout defeat for the Rangers this season and the second straight against the Flyers, who also blanked the Rangers on Dec. 30 at MSG.
Ray Emery stopped all 24 shots he faced to pick up his second shutout of the season, and 10th of his career. He benefitted greatly from a stout defensive effort by his Flyers’ teammates.
“Against these guys it’s always a battle,” said Brandon Dubinsky
. “As we’re getting towards later in the year, the games turn more intense. We knew what to expect. We didn’t get it done tonight.”
For the 11th consecutive start, Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
allowed two goals or fewer. Lundqvist finished with 25 saves on Thursday.
The game took a decidedly nasty turn at 5:43 of the second period with Philadelphia holding a 1-0 lead. As the Rangers crashed the Flyers’ crease, Dubinsky and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen began grappling to the side of the net. As this was happening rugged Flyers winger Daniel Carcillo grabbed Marian Gaborik
Gaborik, who entered the game with only one fighting major in his entire NHL career, pushed and shoved with Carcillo behind the cage until the gloves came off both players. Carcillo then began raining punches on the Rangers’ top offensive player as Gaborik tried unsuccessfully to ward Carcillo off.
“There’s no honor in that,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of Carcillo’s eagerness to fight Gaborik. “I don’t play the game. I don’t wear the uniform. I don’t want to say too much about it, but there’s simply no honor in that at all. It’s embarrassing.”
When the referees finally restored order and sent four players in total to the penalty box, Dubinsky and Carcillo had to be restrained by the off-ice officials from going at one another, with the Rangers furious over the fact that a noted fighter like Carcillo would choose to ply his craft on a non-fighter, who also happens to be the Rangers’ top gun.
“I think it’s disrespectful,” said Marc Staal
. “We have a bunch of guys in this room that would jump and go with him immediately without going after our star player. It’s a lack of respect.”
Tortorella screamed from the Rangers bench at his Flyers counterpart, Peter Laviolette, because of Carcillo’s attack on Gaborik. The Rangers head coach then turned his anger toward the referees who somehow awarded the Flyers a power play at the end of the scuffle.
It was Laviolette’s turn to be furious with the refs a minute later when Philadelphia’s power play came to an abrupt end when Scott Hartnell clipped Michal Rozsival
with a high stick. Hartnell was assessed a double-minor, and Laviolette clearly thought the penalty was excessive.
There was more nastiness and two more fights before the period finally came to a close. Sean Avery
and Hartnell dropped the gloves in front of the Flyers’ net at 12:18, and Avery engaged Carcillo with one minute to go in the second.
On the faceoff that followed the Avery-Carcillo fight, Gaborik was penalized for slashing, and that penalty came back to the bite the Rangers before the horn sounded to end the period. With 2.5 seconds to play, Flyers’ captain Mike Richards tried to find Daniel Briere with a pass in front, but the puck deflected off the skate of Staal and into the net, handing Philly a huge score and a 2-0 advantage.
“I was looking over my shoulder at Briere to grab his stick and make sure he didn’t get a tip on it,” said Staal. “I looked the other way and it hit my skate. It was a tough break obviously at the end of the period like that.”
The third period began with another fight. This time, Aaron Voros and Aaron Asham dropped the gloves just three seconds after the first puck was dropped.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, the third period also played out as the first two periods had. The Flyers again shut down the visitors offensively, while having the better scoring chances themselves. In fact if not for Lundqvist, the Flyers could have added to their lead, if not doubled it, in the opening minutes of the final period.
Most impressive was Lundqvist’s sprawling left-pad stop to rob Briere who had broken in behind the defense five minutes into the third.
Rookie James van Riemsdyk had scored the first goal of the night at 15:10 of the first period for the Flyers. Veteran defenseman Chris Pronger fired a perfect outlet pass from his own zone to van Riemsdyk at the red line. Staal skated with van Riemsdyk stride for stride, but the youngster was able to bat his own rebound into the net after Lundqvist had made a strong first save.
Scoring chances were few and far between for the Rangers. Voros had an excellent one 10 minutes into the opening period when he took a hard snap shot from the right circle after a good pass from Avery. Voros’ rising shot hit Emery in the shoulder, and the rugged Rangers forward had his stick tied up so as to avert a rebound attempt.
In the second period, Enver Lisin had several prime chances to put the Rangers on the board, including a perfect deflection in front at 12:10, but Emery was there each time to make the timely save.
“We had a tougher time getting through the neutral zone tonight,” said Staal. “We really didn’t get in their zone and sustain any pressure.”
The Rangers will look to get back on track Saturday night up in Montreal when they face off against the Canadiens in another big road contest between two Original Six rivals.
|Three star selections
||JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK