Rangers hold on to beat Flyers for first home win in 6 weeks
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Rangers finally won at home again, and also accomplished a feat they’re proud of.
Oscar Lindberg and Chris Kreider scored 2:09 apart midway through the third period, and the Rangers held on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 Sunday night for their first win at home in six weeks. New York reached 100 points in a third straight season for just the second time in franchise history.
”It says a lot about how hard we worked,” center Derek Stepan said. ”To be able to have the ability to get to 100 points as a team, not a lot of teams can say that. It’s something we’re real proud of. We worked very hard this season to get ourselves into the playoffs and to be able to get to that 100 point mark again … it’s a real proud (accomplishment) for us.”
Mika Zibanejad and Brendan Smith scored in the first period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 shots to help the Rangers win at Madison Square Garden for the first time since beating Washington on Feb. 19. New York was 0-5-3 on home ice since.
”We needed a game like that to feel good about ourselves,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. ”That was a real good 60-minute game for us. We did a lot of good things: tracking back, we were able to stay up; all those things we kind of got away from at home.
”So I think (this) was a step in the right direction.”
The Rangers, who also had consecutive 100-point seasons from 1970-71 through 1972-73, are guaranteed to fall no lower than the first wild card in the Eastern Conference. They are fourth in the Metropolitan Division, trailing third-place Columbus by six points. New York has three games remaining and Columbus has four.
”It’s a tough league,” Lundqvist said. ”It’s hard to win. It’s hard to be in a playoff race but guys are committed.”
Valtteri Filppula had two goals and Brayden Schenn also scored for Philadelphia, which was eliminated from postseason contention.
”The reality is we’re on the outside looking in,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said.
Anthony Stolarz finished with 20 saves.
Mats Zuccarello had three assists to become the first Rangers player to have at least 44 since Marian Gaborik in 2009-10.
”He’s one of the most elite passers in the game,” Stepan said of Zuccarello. ”This guy is an elite player, there is no doubt about it.”
Leading 2-1, New York appeared to put the game away halfway through the third. Lindberg scored from in front for his eighth at 7:01, and Kreider made it 4-1 with his 28th at 9:10.
However, Schenn scored with 2:06 remaining and Filppula’s second of the game – and fourth in his last five games – pulled the Flyers within one 51 seconds later.
”We almost came back,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. ”A couple bounces just went their way.”
Filppula gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with his 11th of the season just 33 seconds into the second as he curled around New York defenseman Marc Staal before lifting a backhander over Lundqvist.
Zibanejad tied it with a power-play goal 3:24 later, firing an end-over-end shot from the top of the left circle over Stolarz’s stick.
The Rangers were 1 for 4 on the man advantage and are 12 for 35 dating back to March 9. New York also killed all three Philadelphia power plays.
It took just 3:13 for the Rangers to strike again as Smith’s backhander over Stolarz’s glove put New York ahead 2-1. The goal was his third of the season and his first since being acquired from Detroit on Feb. 28.
”There’s no doubt that was a real smart play on his goal,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said. ”I do think he made some good decisions (and) he made the call as far as jumping up (on) that play at that time.”
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Flyers GM Ron Hextall said G Michal Neuvirth was ”released from Pennsylvania Hospital and is at home resting,” in a statement. Neuvirth collapsed in his crease and was carted off the ice on a stretcher during the first period of Philadelphia’s 3-0 win over New Jersey Saturday night. … Flyers RW Matt Read missed his second straight game with an upper body injury. … New York D Ryan McDonagh missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Vigneault said McDonagh ”will come back when he’s 100 percent.”
Flyers: At New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Rangers: At Washington on Wednesday night.