Philadelphia, PA–The Rangers’ lineup was without Artemiy Panarin and K’Andre Miller were defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Claude Giroux was excited to get back on the ice for Philly. Sidelined two weeks because of COVID-19 protocols. His 903rd career game tied him with Bill Barber for most in the regular season with the Flyers. He also had three assists in the win.
Giroux, who played his first game since Feb. 7, led Philadelphia with eight shots on goal, 12 total shot attempts, three points and was 8 of 11 on face-offs.
“It’s not that fun watching the guys play when you’re at home,” Giroux said.
The Flyers was able to make early work of their offensive zone time in this contest, and they jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 7:48 mark. Shayne Gostisbehere moved the puck across the blue line to Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson was able to slice the puck towards the net and it appeared to handcuff Igor Shesterkin, for the score.
Igor Shesterkin was the starting goaltender for the Rangers and had a very strong outing with a 35-save effort.
The Rangers got on the board just under two minutes later on the power play. The goal was set right off of the face-off win by Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox threw a quick shot on goal for a rebound. Chris Kreider was at the right place on the ice to pickup the puck left by Brian Elliott, and tied the game at 1-1.
Giroux helped set up goals for Gustafsson and Gostisbehere jumped on loose puck, caught Shesterkin out of place in the first period to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
James van Riemsdyk and Gostisbehere each scored a power-play goal for Philly, who are 0-3-2 against Boston and 9-1-1 versus the rest of the East Division.
Chris Kreiderscored a hat trick for New York on three tap-ins in front.
Philadelphia — who entered the contest averaging a league-low 23.3 shots per game — had a shooter’s mentality for one of the few times this season.
This time, they had 39 shots on goal and 18 others blocked. The latter number is still too high, but it is acceptable if Philly can force a goalie to face nearly 40 shots.
“He’s a huge part of our team He got rewarded tonight,” New York center Mika Zibanejad said. “He works obviously incredibly hard and he goes to the net. He does an unbelievable job, probably one of the best guys in the league in front.”
With a little over six minutes after Kreider’s tally, the Flyers lead 4-2 lead because of Kevin Hayes’ seventh goal of the season. Claude Giroux was able to setup Hayes with a nice cross-ice pass entering the offensive zone. Hayes was able to collect the puck through some traffic in front, and somehow slipped the puck under the crossbar. Shesterkin appeared stunned that the shot got passed him and Hayes gave the Philadelphia a much needed insurance goal.
The Flyers needed the win after losing 7-3 loss to the Bruins and had dropped four of five overall. Carter Hart allowed six goals on 23 shots in the first two periods against the Bruins and hit the pine Wednesday night. Brian Elliott blocked 24 shots for Philly, who had a rugged stretch Saturday of six games in nine days — including three straight games at Pittsburgh.
“We’d love to have all of our guys healthy and ready to go,” Rangers coach David Quinn said before the game. “We’re no different than most teams in the league. We don’t have that luxury right now.”
In the Flyers’ previous game against the Rangers, a 3-2 overtime loss, they had more shots blocked (27) than on net (22).
“I think a big part of us getting more shots on net starts with our back end,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “When our back end finds a way to get pucks through, obviously it creates more scrambles and it creates more looks. For us, we were talking about getting more pucks to the net. We have some defensive guys there who in my estimation should be able to get pucks through.”
The Rangers host Boston on Friday and Sunday.
The Flyers play Saturday and Sunday at Buffalo.