The New York Rangers finally fell short tonight, and were defeated 4-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. An early third period power play wound up working against the Rangers, and they never found a way to respond late in the game.
As it normally goes with these games between the Rangers and Flyers, there is usually a quick start right off of the opening faceoff. Little did we know, the first goal of the game would only take eight seconds to find the back of the net. Derek Stepan wound up grabbing the puck in the neutral zone on a broken play, and tossed a quick shot towards Steve Mason. This was Mason's first game back since going down with an injury, and he was clearly shaking off the cobwebs early on in the game.
Mason's wound up making a horrible read on the puck, and it slipped right between his legs before he even knew what happened. While it appeared that the Rangers grabbed the early 1-0 lead on Mason's gaffe, the officials huddled up at center ice to discuss the goal. After it was all said and done, they ruled that Chris Kreider was still a step offsides when the puck was shot on net, and therefore the goal was waived officially off.
Following the bizarre start to the game, we back to action, and the Flyers eventually responded with a goal of their own. This was actually counted, and all stemmed from a massive misplay by Dan Boyle in the offensive zone. With Matt Read blocking any and every shooting lane, Boyle elected to shoot it anyway, and the puck flew back the other way on the blocked shot. Read was able to chase down the loose puck, and fed a cross-ice feed over to Jakub Voracek who was open on the far side.
The puck eventually worked its way to the front of the net, and Cam Talbot kicked the rebound out to the far side where Read was stationed. Read was able to knock the puck out of the air, and slipped the puck just inside the post to grab the 1-0 lead. It was certainly a deflating sequence after having the opening goal waived off, but the Rangers responded 24 seconds later to knot the game up at one.
Carl Hagelin was able to force Luke Schenn into coughing the puck up in the corner, and found J.T. Miller cutting in all alone down the middle of the ice. Miller's initial shot was stopped by Mason, but he followed up the rebound and tapped the puck into the yawning net. For Miller, it was a huge sigh of a relief to finally get the monkey off his back, and he made everyone aware with his celebration.
Despite a wacky first period, the Rangers went into the intermission knotted up at 1-1, and a had a big opportunity early in the second period. Claude Giroux wound up getting his stick caught up in Ryan McDonagh's jersey, and the Rangers went to an early power play just a minute into the middle frame. The Rangers power play looked extremely unorganized all throughout the man-advantage, and wasn't able to find the go ahead goal.
However, just about 10 minutes later, John Moore finally gave the Rangers the 2-1 lead on a point shot through traffic. The replay showed that the puck wound up deflecting off of Brayden Coburn in front, and in behind Steve Mason. Tanner Glass (yes, you read that right) picked up the primary assist on the goal, which is only his second point of the season.
Four minutes later though, the Flyers jumped right back into the game, and evened up the score once again. Much like Moore's goal, it came off of a point shot by Braydon Coburn, and Michael Raffl got a piece of the puck as it came in on Talbot. With a ton of traffic in front, Talbot wasn't able to locate the initial shot, and actually wound up moving out of the way after the deflection.
It was an unfortunate goal to give up late in the period, but with about three seconds left in the second, Claude Giroux took his second minor of the game. That gave the Rangers a huge opportunity early in the third period, as they had 1:57 remaining on the power play to work with. However, it wound up working against them, just 1:19 into the third period, Michael Del Zotto scored to put the Flyers up 3-2.
The Rangers had horrible coverage in the defensive zone, and let Sean Couturier waltz right into the zone. With everyone shifting their attention to Couturier, Del Zotto slipped in undetected and ripped a heavy wrist shot right under the crossbar. Once again, Talbot was off his angle quite a bit, and Del Zotto made him pay by picking the corner.
With the time winding down late in the game, the Rangers continued to come up empty as they searched for the game tying goal. Finally, they were able to put together a dominating shift, but Steve Mason flipped the switch, and turned into an absolute god. He turned away two separate chances, including a big stop on Rick Nash, who had a wide open net on the backdoor.
Then, with under three minutes remaining, Carl Hagelin clipped Mark Streit with a high stick, and sent the Rangers on a late penalty kill. Sure enough, Alain Vigneault elected to send Tanner Glass out there to kill the penalty, and it resulted in nothing but constant pressure from the Flyers. The Rangers eventually killed off the two minute penalty, and only had about a minute to get back on the attack.
Despite some late zone time with the goalie pulled, the Rangers weren't able to get any threatening chances through to Mason. The Flyers eventually knocked the puck out of the zone, and Wayne Simmonds was able to walk down and slam home the empty netter to seal the 4-2 victory. With the amount of games the Rangers have been winning as of late, you had to figure there was a bad one coming on the horizon.
It will be a tough loss to bounce back from, especially with a very difficult schedule coming up over the next few weeks. They will have to rebound pretty quickly, as they welcome in the league-leading Nashville Predators to Madison Square Garden on Monday.