Rangers, Flyers try to rebound from tough losses
PHILADELPHIA — Each coming off stinging losses Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will renew their heated rivalry Friday afternoon when they meet at 1 p.m. ET at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers (9-9-3) were 6:32 away from pulling out a gutsy road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning when they allowed goals to Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan just 12 seconds apart in a 4-2 loss in Tampa.
“It's tough to swallow,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after the game. “The tying goal they get a good bounce off the half-wall and their guy makes a good play. They got a good bounce on it. We had an opportunity to manage some bouncing pucks on the quick third goal and when the puck is bouncing like that sometimes you just live for the next play, punch that thing forward. We had three or four opportunities to do that and that stung a little bit.”
The Rangers (14-6-1) are coming off Wednesday night's 6-1 loss at Madison Square Garden, where goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on seven shots in the second period before getting yanked in favor of backup Antti Raanta.
“Very difficult to explain,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “There's no doubt that we disappointed ourselves and we disappointed our fans.
“I've got a lot of faith in this group. This group has played some real solid hockey. One period or 30 minutes got away from us. Now we need to respond. These are the players who have permitted us to have a good start and I'm confident these are the players who are going to permit us to respond the right way in Philly on Friday.”
While Vigneault is expected to give Lundqvist (9-6-1, 2.46, .911) a chance to redeem himself, Hakstol faces a tougher decision.
Does he go back to Steve Mason (5-7-3, 3.04, .893), who is coming off back-to-back starts and was brilliant in a 3-1 win over Florida on Tuesday night?
Or does he give rookie Anthony Stolarz his first NHL start against the Eastern Conference leaders?
Eitther way, the Flyers, who have allowed more goals (70) than any team in the East, should have their hands full against the Rangers, who lead the NHL with 82. The Flyers are tied for second in the league with 65.
The Rangers have 14 players with 10 or more points, led by Kevin Hayes (9 goals, 9 assists) and J.T. Miller (8 goals, 10 assists). Michael Grabner leads the Rangers with 12 goals and defenseman Ryan McDonagh has a team-high 13 assists.
The Flyers have seven players in double-digit scoring, led by Wayne Simmonds (10 goals, 8 assists), Jakub Voracek (7 goals, 10 assists), Claude Giroux (4 goals, 13 assists) and Brayden Schenn (3 goals, 10 assists).
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov (1 goal, 8 assists) picked up his first NHL goal Wednesday night but also injured his right leg when he blocked a shot by Tyler Johnson in the final period. Provorov appeared to recover from the blocked shot and was to be evaluated on Thursday. The Flyers lost center Sean Couturier (knee) for 4-6 weeks in their win over Florida, giving Scott Laughton a chance to stick with the Flyers.