Rangers rally to beat Flyers 3-2 in Winter Classic
Alone in the cold, it was up to Henrik Lundqvist to preserve a
His signature moment came with 19.6 seconds left after New York
defenseman Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in the
crease. Flyers center Danny Briere streaked down the ice – a
replica of the Liberty Bell and bundled-up fans behind his back –
trying to send this one into overtime.
Lundqvist dropped to his knees on top of a chilly baseball field
and stoned Briere with his pads when the center tried to sneak it
through his legs.
This made-for-TV showcase had found its brightest star.
Lundqvist stopped 34 shots, Brad Richards scored the go-ahead
goal early in the third period and the New York Rangers rallied
from a two-goal deficit to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the
Winter Classic on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
”I was just trying to be patient and do my thing,” Lundqvist
said. ”He’s a sneaky guy, and there was a lot of pressure on
More pressure than any other regular-season games in January.
While this game meant two points in the standings, like the four
other NHL games set for Monday night, it received the kind of hype
normally reserved for the Stanley Cup finals. NBC televised the
game and HBO had 12 camera crews filming the game and
behind-the-scenes action for its ”24/7” series.
Rangers coach John Tortorella wondered if the officials wanted
their own time in the spotlight to build the drama.
”They called a penalty shot which I still don’t understand,”
he said. ”I’m not sure if NBC got together with the refs to turn
this into an overtime game. I thought the game was reffed
”I just thought tonight, in that third period, it was
Mike Rupp scored twice as New York won for the third time this
season against Philadelphia.
Playing on a rink that stretched from first base to third base,
the Rangers made the league’s fifth Classic event a memorable one
to stay atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The NHL surrounded the rink with Christmas trees, firewood, fake
snow, and even trash-can fires. But there was nothing artificial in
the elements with snow flurries late in the second period and
temperatures that dipped into the 30s, forcing 46,967 fans to layer
in jerseys for the big event.
All that was missing was one of the breakout stars of HBO’s NHL
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year, $51
million contract in June, saw a recent slump send him to the bench.
Sergei Bobrovsky, instead, took the call from coach Peter
Laviolette and failed to hold the early lead built in front of a
decidedly orange-and-black crowd.
The Flyers ended the game without Jaromir Jagr, their star
forward who played only a minute in the second period before
leaving the game for good. The 39-year-old Jagr, a former Ranger,
said after the game he injured his left leg and expected to return
Even with Jagr out, his presence was noted.
Rupp’s first goal late in the second came with a salute toward
the Flyers’ bench – the same move Jagr makes for the home crowd
after one of his goals. Rupp smiled as his teammates mobbed him
along the boards and the crowd booed his attempt at showing up
”I was happy I had the goal,” Rupp said, ”and that’s kind of
where I’ll leave it.”
Jagr never really had a chance to respond and the Flyers hope
whatever is ailing their third-leading scorer won’t keep him out
Rupp, who scored the winning goal for New Jersey in Game 7 of
the 2003 Stanley Cup finals against Anaheim, delivered another
clutch goal on the big stage when his wrister from the circle shot
under Bobrovsky’s right arm and tied the game at 2.
Richards, the summer’s top free agent who is in his first season
with New York, wasted no time scoring the winner, knocking in a
rebound 3:20 later to put the Rangers up 3-2. It was his 14th of
Lundqvist outplayed Bobrovsky, stopping 12 shots in the first.
He finished with 34 saves, none bigger than the one on Briere, who
believed he could send the game into the extra session.
”All I was thinking is this game is going to overtime,” he
said. ”Unfortunately, he made the save. I tried to surprise him
with a quick shot, but he made the save.
”He’s one of the best in shootouts.”
Lundqvist, like Tortorella, questioned if the need to
manufacture drama played a role in calling the late penalty
”Maybe that’s really the only reason he called it,” he said.
”It would have been tough for them to tie it on that.”
With some fans paying more than a $1,000 a seat on the secondary
market, the stadium was full to the end. Though, most of them went
Rookie Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux scored to give the
Flyers the early lead, as it appeared that the home team would
finally win its first game against New York this year.
Schenn, a prized rookie sent over from Los Angeles in the Mike
Richards deal over the summer, scored his first career goal midway
through the second period, setting off the Liberty Bell in right
field normally reserved for Phillies home runs.
Giroux showed a national audience how he’s blossomed into an MVP
candidate with a backhander 1:55 later for his 18th goal and a 2-0
lead. But the Flyers couldn’t beat Lundqvist again.
That didn’t stop the diehards, though, from being entertained by
hometown band, The Roots, and national anthem singer Patti
The trash-can fires gave the game a ”Rocky” feel and the
pitchers’ mound and home plate area were left exposed. It was 41
degrees when the opening faceoff dropped just after 3 p.m., and
temperatures dipped the next three hours. The start time was pushed
back two hours to protect the rink from the sun.
”It was something special,” Jagr said. ”I wish everyone in
the NHL can get a chance to play in that game.”
New York received a dose of good news long before the final
horn. Defenseman Marc Staal made his return to the lineup after a
seasonlong absence from a concussion.
Staal, who turns 25 in January, has been out all season with the
effects of a concussion sustained in February when he was hit by
his brother, Eric, a forward for the Carolina Hurricanes. He has
been skating this month and was cleared for light contact.
Notes: The NHL used 20,000 gallons of water for the rink. …
The Flyers played in their second Winter Classic in two years and
have lost both. … The road team is 4-0-1 in the Winter Classic.
… Commissioner Gary Bettman held a postgame press conference and
reiterated that he had no idea where the Classic will be held next