|PHI||3||2||1||(0 - 0)||6|
|NYR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
• PHOTO GALLERY
• RANGERS GAME CENTER
It was a tough way for the Rangers to end the home portion of their 2009 calendar year on Wednesday night, as the Blueshirts fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 6-0 at Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers put on a clinic for much of the first two periods, scoring three times in the opening 20 minutes and twice more in the middle frame. That included a goal with five seconds left on a 5-on-3 advantage that the Flyers enjoyed for more than a minute.
Philadelphia goaltender Mike Leighton, whose last start against the Rangers at MSG came more than six years ago when he was playing for Chicago, got his fourth career shutout. Leighton finished the game with 22 saves, as his teammates outshot the Blueshirts 31-22.
Wednesday night was the Rangers' first game without first-line forward Vinny Prospal, who had arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Monday and will be out for 10 days to three weeks. Unfortunately, Prospal's offensive firepower was sorely missed against the Flyers.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had a short night, surrendering the three first-period goals before head coach John Tortorella chose to remove him from the first of back-to-back games.
A more rested Lundqvist, who faced only 11 shots on Wednesday, will be available to start again on Thursday, when the Blueshirts visit Carolina for a New Year's Eve matchup.
Tortorella said the opportunity to go right back to work on Thursday was a blessing for the Rangers after a game like Wednesday night's.
“We start over. That is the best thing for us right now is to get on a plane and play," said Tortorella. "Some things, obviously, there has to be some discussion on certain situations but we have to start over. We have to start over. The best thing for us is to play right away.”
With Lundqvist out after one period, Tortorella turned to rookie Chad Johnson, who made his NHL debut. Johnson gave up an almost immediate goal to Simon Gagne that made it 4-0 for Philadelphia, but he settled down after that and finished with 17 saves in 40 minutes of work. Several of those stops were of the highlight-reel variety, but they came well after the outcome of the game was no longer in much doubt.
Simon Gagne led the Philadelphia attack with a natural hat trick, scoring both of his team's second-period goals and capping off the three-goal game at 11:30 of the third. Gagne also had an assist on Claude Giroux's first-period goal on a remarkable six-point effort.
Former Rangers center Blair Betts set the tone early in his first game back at MSG with the Flyers. Positioned in the slot, Betts scored on the rebound of a shot by Ian Laperriere to make it 1-0 just 54 seconds into the opening period. Danny Briere made it 2-0 at 11:51 of the first, taking a pass down low from Mike Richards and patiently waiting for Lundqvist to commit before sending the puck into the net.
Just under two minutes after Briere's goal, Claude Giroux stretched the lead to 3-0 at 13:28 of the first, scoring on the rebound of Gagne's shot, which Lundqvist had kicked back out into the slot.
It was all Gagne the rest of the way, as the Flyers won their fourth straight game.
“We weren’t ready," said Rangers forward Marian Gaborik, who was held off the scoresheet for one of the few times this season. "They got three quick goals and then nothing was working out for us. It is obviously unacceptable. The positive thing is that we play tomorrow. We need to redeem ourselves.”
Despite the loss, the Rangers remained tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers, Rangers, Lightning and Thrashers all have 40 points on the season, but the Blueshirts can take sole possession of the No. 8 spot with a New Year's Eve win at Carolina.
|Blair Betts (4) ASST: Ian Laperriere (6)|
1 - 0 PHI
|Daniel Briere (14) ASST: Mike Richards (16), Jeff Carter (17)|
2 - 0 PHI
|Claude Giroux (8) ASST: Simon Gagne (7)|
3 - 0 PHI
|Simon Gagne (3) ASST: NONE|
4 - 0 PHI
|PPG - Simon Gagne (4) ASST: Daniel Briere (11), Jeff Carter (18)|
5 - 0 PHI
|Simon Gagne (5) ASST: Claude Giroux (18), Mike Richards (17)|
6 - 0 PHI
|Sean Avery Fighting against Scott Hartnell|
|Scott Hartnell Fighting against Sean Avery|
|Braydon Coburn Hooking against Artem Anisimov|
|Danny Syvret Tripping against Enver Lisin|
|Arron Asham Too many men on the ice|
|Marc Staal Hi-sticking against Claude Giroux|
|Wade Redden Hooking against Mike Richards|
|Oskars Bartulis Interference against Brian Boyle|