Putting forth one of their most dominating complete performances of the season Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers jumped past the Flyers into a second place tie in the Metropolitan Division with a convincing 4-1 victory over their rivals from Philadelphia. With 51 points the Rangers are now tied with the Washington Capitals, one point ahead of the Flyers, whom the Blueshirts have now beaten seven consecutive times on Garden ice.
The Rangers are now on a three-game winning streak, and they have recorded at least one point in five consecutive games (4-0-1). They are also unbeaten in regulation over their last five games at The Garden (4-0-1), and are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games overall.
Daniel Carcillo, the ex-Flyer, jump-started his new team with a goal just 2:14 into the game against one of his former teams, and was a thorn in Philly's side all night long, chirping constantly on the ice and from the bench, and later dropping the gloves with Philly defenseman Luke Schenn.
Chris Kreider recorded a goal and an assist, while Rick Nash scored his fourth goal in the past four games for the Rangers, who received stellar play in goal from Henrik Lundqvist. Making his seventh start in the last eight games, Lundqvist stopped 37 of 38 shots to earn his 15th victory of the season.
The Rangers stormed the Flyers from the outset, and before the contest was three minutes old the Blueshirts had secured a 2-0 lead. Carcillo set the tone intercepting a pass behind the Flyers net and proceeding to quickly wrap the puck inside the left post for his first goal wearing the Blueshirt. Acquired from Los Angeles eight days ago, Carcillo has now played three very strong games for the Rangers. His goal Sunday was his third in four career games against the Flyers, for whom he played from 2008-09 through 2010-11.
Twenty-eight seconds later Nash ripped a right wing shot past Philly's goaltender, Ray Emery, and the Rangers had a 2-0 lead on their first four shots of the game. Nash, who scored the game-winner with 1:58 left in regulation Friday against Dallas, accepted a Kreider pass from the goal line, skated a few strides towards Emery, and then unleashed a hard low shot to the far side for his 11th goal of the season.
The Flyers had a chance to get back in the game when Dan Girardi was whistled for an interference penalty at 6:20, but Lundqvist excelled by making six saves over the next two minutes to keep the Blueshirts lead intact. Shortly thereafter Derick Brassard blasted a one-timer from the left circle over Emery's glove and the Rangers lead was 3-0 at the 9:24 mark of the first period. Mats Zuccarello won a battle in the left-wing corner for the puck and then made a sweet pass to Brassard, who made no mistake in hammering his shot past Emery.
Despite being outshot 17-13 in the first period the Rangers probably could have skated off the ice with a 5-0 or 6-0 lead considering how many glorious chances they just missed on after scoring the first three goals of the contest. The period ended with Carcillo and Philly's Wayne Simmonds leaning over the boards, engaging in not-so-pleasant conversation, and with the Rangers up 3-0.
There was more of the same in the second period as the Rangers out-chanced the Flyers at every turn and post-whistle skirmishes and on-ice yapping picked up. Carcillo and Schenn finally dropped the gloves at 7:05--Carcillo's first fight as a Ranger--though that did not stop both teams from playing physically and with an angry edge.
On their fifth power play opportunity of the night the Rangers upped their lead to 4-0, at the 13:18 mark of the second period. Brad Richards did a terrific job keeping an attempted Flyers clear in at the left point, and then chipped the puck to Kreider. Almost in slow motion Kreider skated towards the net while Philly's attention was drawn to Nash on the right wing. Kreider closed in on Emery and then flicked a shot that caromed off Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and into the net for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.
With 23 saves through two periods of play, Lundqvist lost his shutout bid 6:49 into the third period when Mark Streit's power play slap shot beat him through a screen in front.
Before the game could end the simmering bad feelings boiled over on the ice with six players receiving penalties in a scrum near the Flyers bench with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. Carcillo and Schenn received misconducts, with Schenn gaining an extra two minutes for roughing, while Brian Boyle and Simmonds also received ten-minute misconduct penalties. John Moore engaged in his first fight of the season, dropping the gloves with Philly's Brayden Schenn.
The Rangers four-game homestand continues Tuesday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning pay a visit to The Garden.