Deflections Do Flyers In Against Rangers

23 Dec

NEW YORK — Before Friday night’s game against the Rangers, Peter Laviolette was reminded that the Flyers hadn’t scored in their last two trips to Madison Square Garden.

“Yeah, I’m guaranteeing we score a goal tonight,” said the coach. It took a while, but he was right. However, that one goal wasn’t enough. In fact, two didn’t do the trick in a 4-2 loss.

It was a better effort than the last time the Flyers were visiting New York, a 2-0 loss on Nov. 26, but this time it was deflections that did them in. The Flyers had the lead in shots, but weren’t able to solve Henrik Lundqvist until the third period.

“Henrik was playing very good,” said Jaromir Jagr. “The chances we had, they had all five guys around the net. To play them, you need to be a little bit lucky on the deflection. There is so many bodies, you’re not gonna have open looks, but you can score five ugly ones next game because there are so many bodies. It’s a matter of luck, I would say.”

Then consider the Rangers unlucky — at least to start the game. It took them more than half a period to get their first shot on net, but once they fired on net, they looked dangerous. Once the Flyers felt the danger, they were done.

“I guess they want it more than we are,” said Ilya Bryzgalov. “That’s why they win.”

Derek Stepan deflected a shot from Stu Bickel past Bryzgalov at 10:18 of the second period. The Flyers’ goalie had no shot at stopping it, a grim fate after being in position to save the first 12 shots of the game. He didn’t get any luckier. Former Flyer Ruslan Fedotenko scored on a deflection five minutes and 11 seconds later, but initially the officials didn’t see it.

He tipped another shot from Bickel up and off the back bar, but play continued. At the next stoppage, the play was reviewed and the goal was correctly awarded.

While the Rangers seemed to get all the bounces, the Flyers couldn’t cash in on opportunities. They had one-time opportunities for guys who were off balance and wraparounds that came up short.

“I don’t think that we didn’t try tonight, or that we didn’t try to come in here and execute,” said Laviolette. “I don’t think it was a lack of effort — it was a couple of tough breaks.”

Late in the third period, persistence paid off. With Artem Anisimov in the box for holding, the Flyers went to work on their fourth power play. After working the puck around, Andrej Meszaros finally found the back of the net. He broke a goalless drought of 171:07 for the Flyers at Madison Square Garden.

The goal was too little, too late, though. The Rangers got it back with 5:56 remaining when Ranger captain Ryan Callahan got a rebound on the doorstep and roofed it over Bryzgalov for the 4-1 lead.

With 2:10 remaining, James van Riemsdyk broke a nine-game goalless drought with a controversial goal. He deflected the puck with a high stick, but was then the next player to touch it and he put it behind Lundqvist. The late push wasn’t enough, though.

Not only will the Flyers have three days to “let it burn” as Laviolette said on the most recent installment of 24/7, they’ll also have a sour taste in their mouths heading into the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

The loss means that not only have the Flyers lost in both meetings between the two teams this season, but they relinquished first place in the Atlantic Division to the Rangers as well.

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