By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—After getting blasted by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the Flyers had a good start, a shaky middle, and a strong finish to upend the New York Rangers 4-2 Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I think our guys have good character,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “There’s three or four games like (the San Jose game) this year and we came back and had a real good game. I was pretty confident that we would come out and play hard.”
Luke Schenn and Wayne Simmonds scored the game’s final two goals to break open a 2-2 tie to put the Flyers (31-24-6) to within a point of the Rangers (33-25-3) in the Metropolitan Division standings. It was Simmonds goal with 6:43 left in the second that put the Flyers on top for good. Schenn’s third-period score sealed it for the Flyers.
For the first five minutes, it looked like the Flyers were headed to a continuation of Thursday’s loss to the Sharks. Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell committed a pair of penalties and gave a Rangers squad that knows how to score on the power-play two opportunities to put them in an early hole.
But on the both occasions, the Flyers killed the Rangers early power-play chances thanks to their defense and the goaltending of Steve Mason, who came up with some saves.
“It’s not the way you want to start a game because we’re setting ourselves back, but when you’re able to kill penalties against an extremely talented power-play in the first couple of minutes of the games, it was a good feeling moving forward,” said Mason, who finished the game with 33 saves.
Despite being outshot early in the game, the penalty kills fired up the Flyers offense midway through the opening period. First, Vincent Lecavalier scored a goal following up a shot at the point by Simmonds with 13:04 left in the period.
A little over a minute later, Sean Couturier scored the Flyers second goal on a breakaway after he took a pass from Matt Read at center ice to put his team up 2-0. Simmonds said stopping the Rangers on the power-play got the Flyers offense going.
“We know that they have a great power-play, but our penalty kill has been great all year long,” said Simmonds, who had a goal and an assist in the game. “We take too many penalties as a team as it is and our penalty kill goes out there time after time and bails out of the situation. After that, we just want to get our legs going…we start rolling four lines and everything started clicking after that.”
In the second period, the Flyers experience a lull that enabled the Rangers to get back in the game. The Rangers got on the board on a goal by left winger Chris Kreider. New York tied the game on a power-play goal by right winger Derick Brassard off a pass from center Brad Richards with 7:18 left in the period.
Even though the second stanza was dominated by the Rangers, the Flyers jumped back into the lead with 6: 43 left in the period on a power-play goal by Simmonds who took a pass from Brayden Schenn at left wing circle and hit a slap-shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist, who played the Flyers tough in recent years.
“I was looking for (Jakub Voracek) back door, but no one even came to me so I thought I was just shoot it as hard as I can and if worse comes to worse there’s a rebound off to (Voracek), but luckily it went in,” Simmonds said.