Following Wednesday’s drubbing to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers rebounded (kind of) with a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Many were quick to jump on Henrik Lundqvist after his performance on Wednesday, but those same people were probably nowhere to be found this afternoon. Lundqvist put on easily his best performance of the season today against the Flyers, and was the sole reason the Rangers won this game.
Aside from being opportunistic, the Rangers as a whole didn’t play a particularly good game. At points, the Flyers dominated possession and the Rangers didn’t really have any sort of answer for it. As good as the Flyers were in the offensive zone, it was their play in the defensive end that gave the Rangers their chances.
The Rangers came away with their first goal of the game at the 13:16 mark, following a forced turnover by J.T. Miller in behind the net. Miller was able to corral the puck and found Derek Stepan cutting to the net for the tap in. A little over a minute later, the Rangers cashed in once again coming off of a ridiculous saucer pass from Jimmy Vesey.
Vesey’s pass landed right on the stick of Matt Puempel as he broke in all alone, and Puempel ripped a shot just over Steven Mason’s left pad. Following the two goals, Philadelphia took charge of the game, and thanks to Henrik Lundqvist, they weren’t able to find a way onto the scoreboard.
About two and a half minutes past the halfway mark of the second period, the Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Mark Streit’s atrocious turnover wound up in the back of the net after Nick Holden set up Kevin Hayes for a slick deflection in the high slot. The Flyers continued to pressure late in the period, but Lundqvist was able to keep them at bay yet again, and they took a 3-0 lead into the third period.
Then, things took an interesting turn. Chris VandeVelde finally broke the scoreless drought just 1:34 into the third period, and started yet another surge from the Flyers. However, the Flyers came up empty handed for a good chunk of the period before surging with the goaltender pulled. Shayne Gostisbehere pulled the Flyers back within a goal with about two minutes remaining, then all hell broke loose.
The Rangers somehow held on despite Lundqvist being peppered with three million shots, and came away with a 3-2 victory in Philadelphia. Obviously not having Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad in the lineup has severely hurt this team’s possession game, but there’s no denying their biggest problem still remains unfixed.
I’d like to think Jeff Gorton is well aware of the issue, and is just waiting until the trade deadline approaches before making his move. But at the same time, can the Rangers afford to wait that long before the wheels completely fall off like they did last year? There’s no denying this is a very dangerous and skilled team up front, but they can be even more dominant with some much needed relief on the backend.
Hopefully that relief comes sometime in the near future. The Rangers will be off tomorrow before returning home to take on the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.