The initial return to regular game action following the All-Star break can be a struggle for some teams—definitely not for the New York Rangers.
The Rangers recently secured their lead spot with their 5-2 win over the Flyers, who had a strong victory against the Nashville Predators at home this week--but then lost two straight to the Rangers and New Jersey Devils, this past weekend
Philadelphia played its fourth game in six days and the final of a weekend back-to-back. The Flyers lost 6-4 at home against New Jersey on Saturday. Philadelphia has not had a great run with home ice advantage this year.
For the Rangers, Anisimov had a goal and two assists, Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves in a typical fight-filled rivalry match that simply proved to be too much for the Bullies and Bryzgalov in the scoring department. Philly held their own in the ‘ring’, so to speak.
Marian Gaborik, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko also scored to seal their win. The Rangers have won six straight against Philadelphia, thanks to their four wins against Philadelphia this season alone.
The smokin guns of Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds scored for the Flyers, but the team now has lost for the third time in the last four games. This was the two squads first meeting since the Winter Classic on January 2nd and unfortunately for Philly, the outcome was a bit of 'deja vu'.
Anisimov opened the scoring at 1:04 of the first period. He also assisted on Gaborik's second-period goal, in which he recovered from a flattening check--delivered from Meszaros behind the net to come back and score his 26th goal of the season with only 5 seconds remaining in the second.
Mr. Schenn tied it on a picture-perfect breakaway goal at 12:02 of the second. Just out of the penalty box, the 20-year-old center took a pass from Jakub Voracek and beat Lundqvist by lifting a backhand over his glove hand. This goal from Schenn ended Lundqvist's career-best shutout streak. The NY net minder still improved his record to: (24-14-4) for the regular season.
Del Zotto's go-ahead score at 1:33 of the third; answering just 36 seconds after Simmonds tied it all up at 2. Dubinsky added an insurance goal at 12:15 and Fedotenko had an empty-netter at 18:44.
Bryzgalov updated his record to: (19-10-5).
Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel fought Simmonds in the first period and Tim Sestito in the second. Sestito also fought Brandon Dubinsky in the first and Brandon Prust in the third. Sestito was given an automatic game misconduct after his third fight. When asked about his three round bout with the Rangers, Sestito (an upstate NY native) said simply: ““It’s what I’m doing here. That’s what I gotta do. I’m pretty sore. My hands are pretty sore. But I’ll be all right. A little ice and a little Advil, I’ll be fine.”
The Rangers are currently (16-4-1) in their last 21 games and (30-9-3) overall. These rich rivals square up in Philadelphia two more times on February 11th and April 3rd—both are guaranteed to be a repeat of the knock down, drag out battle in both the scoring and physical realms.