Rangers aim to stay hot at Philadelphia
The Rangers, who are supposed to be in a rebuild, have won three straight and are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games. They have outscored the opposition 11-3 in the three games, beating the New York Islanders 5-0 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
That win ended an eight-game losing streak against the Islanders, pulled the Rangers (12-8-2) into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
“It was getting a little ridiculous,” Marc Staal said of ending the streak. “Obviously that building is a lot different. But the fact that we couldn’t even win (more than once) in our own building? They’re supposed to be one our biggest rivals, and to keep laying eggs, it wasn’t sitting well.”
Henrik Lundqvist, who was chased in a 7-5 loss in Brooklyn last week, sat it out Wednesday — rookie Alex Georgiev spinning the shutout. Lundqvist is 35-16-4 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .917 save percentage lifetime against the Flyers, who tote a four-game losing streak into this matinee and are one point from then bottom of the Eastern Conference.
“It’s frustrating and we need to wake up,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after his team allowed four goals in the first period and fell 5-2 in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
“We didn’t do enough in the first 10 minutes to give our goaltender (Alex Lyon, in his first NHL start of the season) a chance to get into this hockey game,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said the loss. “On the flip side, he didn’t give us a (big) save early on, either. The two go hand in hand.”
The Flyers (9-10-2) have scored eight goals during their 0-3-1 stretch, scoring eight goals in the four games — five of those coming in one game, a 6-5 overtime loss.
The Rangers have had no such problems — especially against the rival Isles.
“I think eventually when you lose so often to someone, eventually you’re going to win one. Odds were just in our favor,” rookie coach David Quinn said. “And when you do breakthrough and win a game, it usually happens like that.”
Cody MacLeod scored his first goal as a Ranger as part of an early three-goal assault, but then broke his left hand in a fight with Ross Johnston. His toughness has been greatly appreciated by his new team and he is out indefinitely.
Mats Zuccarello, who missed his third straight game with a lower body injury, hopes to return for Friday’s game.
The Flyers recalled winger Tyrell Goulbourne from the Philly Phantoms and sent Nic Aube Kubel back to the AHL team Thursday.
With Brian Elliott hurt, Cal Pickard, who replaced Lyon after Lyon allowed four goals on 12 shots, is the likely starter Friday. He is 3-1-2 with 4.13/.858 numbers on the year, has allowed nine goals on 66 shots in losing his two career starts against the Rangers.
Lundqvist, 8-6-2 with a 2.61 GAA and .919 save percentage on the year, defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1 Monday night for his 500th career victory, counting playoffs. He also moved into sole possession of seventh place on the all-time regular season wins list, with 439. He needs seven more to pass Terry Sawchuk for sixth on the list.