Rangers Hold Off Flyers, Clinch First in the East

With a 5-3 win Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center, the New York Rangers clinched first place in the Eastern Conference and a season sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The New York Rangers entered Tuesday nights game with rival looking to lock up the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, and sweep the rival Philadelphia Flyers for the first time since the 1971-72 season.

The Rangers jumped on the Flyers early, racing out to a 4-0 lead in the first. Ryan McDonagh opened the scoring for the Rangers when he buried a pass from Marion Gaborik. Brian Boyle added to the Rangers lead after scoring off a long rebound from Flyer goalie Iyla Bryzgalov (19 saves). Trailing 2-0, the Flyers tried to gain some momentum the best way they know how. Zac Rinaldo and Brandon Prust exchanged punches, and three minutes later, Jody Shelley and Mike Rupp fought, with Shelley getting the better of Rupp.

Later in the first period, with the Rangers on the power play, Artem Anisimov took a pass through the neutral zone and into the Flyers zone. Anisimov drove to the net, beat Bryzgalov for his 15th goal of the season, and also drew two penalties while scoring. Ryan Callahan scored his career high 29th goal of the season thirty six seconds later while the Rangers were on a five on three.

In the second period, the Flyers were able to cut the Rangers lead to 4-1 with a goal by Jakub Voracek. The game continued be a chippy one, with both teams taking shots at each other after the whistle. With less than a minute remaining in the second period, Marion Gaborik scored the Rangers third power play goal of the game, and their second four goal lead. The lead was cut to three again by Wayne Simmonds who scored on the power play with six seconds left in the period. Henrik Lundqvist looked to be injured on the play when the initial shot hit him in the lower arm . “I told Marty to be ready just in case” said Lundqvist “it was difficult for me to hold the stick.”

Lundqvist battled through his pain in the third period, and made 14 of his 37 saves in the final period. ┬áThe only shot to beat Lundqvist was a wrist shot by Andreas Lilja that made it a 5-3 game. Lundqvist and the Rangers denied the Flyer attack in the final half of the period, and held on for the 5-3 victory, Lundqvist’s 39th win of the season.

“Being able to hold on after getting a four goal lead is a real confidence booster going into the playoffs” said Marc Staal.

Marion Gaborik scored his team leading 41st goal of the season and added an assist to lead the Rangers. Claude Giroux tallied three assists, for the Flyers.  The Rangers power play was an impressive 3 for 6 and the penalty kill was 7 for 8 in a game that totaled19 penalties, including four fighting majors in the first period.

With the win, the Rangers captured the Atlantic Division title, and home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. The last time the Rangers earned the top spot in the Eastern Conference, they won the Stanley Cup.

“I’m so proud of what we have done so far this year. We show up every day and work extremely hard. Everyone has been bringing a lot to the table all year” said Lundqvist on the Rangers success.

The Rangers will continue their push for the President’s Trophy Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center, while the Flyers will host the playoff hopeful Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.

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