Flyers’ Lead Collapses As Rangers Take Winter Classic

2 Jan

CITIZENS BANK PARK — Everybody showed up. Even Mother Nature. But the Flyers left early and let the Rangers take the lead from them and eventually win the Winter Classic 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park.

When the game began, there was a lot of hesitation and understandably so with the unique surroundings. The Flyers had trouble with the Rangers so far this season, losing both of the first two games of the season. But after the first 20 minutes, the Flyers finally got the better of the Rangers thanks to disciplined play and strong forechecking. After outshooting the Rangers 12-8 in the first period, the nerves appeared to calm in the second stanza and finally the Flyers took the first lead of the year over New York.

With Brayden Schenn already playing a strong game, starting in the faceoff dot, his time finally came. He has dealt with three injuries already this season and finally his hard work paid off. He scored his first NHL goal at 12:26 of the second period.

Schenn won the faceoff back to Matt Carle. Trying to avoid the puck leaving the zone, Carle blindly threw the puck on net. It gave Henrik Lundqvist trouble and he gave up an uncharacteristically big rebound, which Schenn found for an easy tally.

“It’s a positive step, definitely,” said Schenn. “It seemed that every time I’d get a break, it wouldn’t go in. This one landed right on my stick and I was fortunate to get it in. I think I can use it as a positive step.”

It was the second time a Flyer had scored his first NHL goal in a Winter Classic. Danny Syvret accomplished the same feat at Fenway Park in the 2010 Winter Classic.

Two minutes later, the Flyers doubled their lead. Max Talbot found a streaking Claude Giroux. He had two defenders draped on him, but it didn’t matter. He deked around them, and Lundqvist, and went top shelf on the Rangers’ goalie.

At one point, it even started to snow. The stars looked aligned for the Flyers.

“Yeah, it was pretty cool,” said Giroux. “Obviously you want it to snow a little bit in the Winter Classic. It kind of reminds you of when you were a kid and it didn’t snow very much, but it did a little bit.”

“We felt great,” said Braydon Coburn. “We just wanted to keep applying pressure and get another one. We could feel like we had a little bit of momentum there and we just wanted to keep rolling.”

Instead, it backfired. The Flyers lost their lead. Less than a minute after Giroux’s goal, the first wheel came off. Mike Rupp found himself with the puck in the high slot and used Andrej Meszaros as a screen to beat Sergei Bobrovsky low glove side for his second goal of the season.

While the score looked good after two periods, the Flyers were without Jaromir Jagr. A left leg injury kept him from returning after his second shift of the second period. He returned only to take a seat at the end of the forwards’ section of the bench. Although he returned with the team for the third period, he didn’t play another second.

The meltdown continued in the third perod. Rupp scored again 2:41 into the third when he came in along the left wing and beat Bobrovsky on a puck that squeezed between the goalie and the post.

“We didn’t want to get behind and we did,” said Rupp. “I think it was another example of [why] I like our room. We don’t give up, we don’t hang our heads and we just kept working at it and chipping away.

“I think you could see at the end there, it became pretty difficult. The ice started to wear a little bit and we were just trying to flip pucks in and make it hard on them.”

The Rangers took the lead three minutes later when Giroux left his man, Brad Richards, and the Ranger forward put a rebound past an already beaten Bobrovsky to give the Rangers the lead. It was a familiar spot for the Flyers to be down to the Rangers and their comeback attempt wasn’t successful one.

Even though Ryan McDonagh gave the Flyers a chance by covering up the puck inside the crease for a penalty shot, the Flyers couldn’t convert with 19.6 seconds left. Rangers coach John Tortorella said the penalty shot call was “disgusting,” but it didn’t matter since Danny Briere couldn’t convert. He tried to go five-hole on Lundqvist and missed.

“He’s pretty good at breakaways and shootouts,” said Giroux. “He’s been doing it his whole career and at the same time, Lundqvist is pretty good too. He’s pretty big in his net. We can’t put ourselves in that situation, being down 3-2 with 20 seconds left. We’ve just gotta put it behind us now and learn from it.”

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