The New York Rangers had an uneasy sense of deja vu in their 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. Once again they started slowly and fell behind early onto to mount a furious comeback that was just too little, too late.
“Against any team, 3-0 is hard,” explained forward Wojtek Wolski. “We have to come out and play like that right from the beginning and not put ourselves against the wall. It’s tough to play when they have a lead.”
Rangers Coach John Tortorella also saw problems with his team’s play early on. “We put ourselves in some bad spots with some untimely penalties,” he said. “That takes away momentum when you’re trying to get momentum. We were a little ragged.”
The Flyers only outshot the Rangers 10-7 in the first period, but they had a lot more quality chances than the home team did. Philadelphia broke through at the 6:14 mark of the game when Jeff Carter redirected a shot from the point by Matt Carle to make it 1-0 Flyers.
Ville Leino scored with 5:06 left in the opening stanza on an easy tap in when he collected the rebound of a shot by Andrej Meszaros. Both of the first two Flyers goals came just after power plays expired–the first one 12 seconds later and the second one just six. In both cases, the puck remained in the Rangers end.
“They created a lot of things around the net,” Rangers goalie Martin Biron admitted. “They were definitely getting guys hungry with pucks around the net.”
The Flyers added to their lead at the 4:25 mark of the second period on a shorthanded goal by Mike Richads. Claude Giroux created a 2-on-1 and fed Richards with a perfect pass.
Tortorella benched slumping sniper Marian Gaborik for most of the second period, giving him just 2:25 of ice time in the period and 12:45 for the entire game. Gaborik has now gone eight games without a goal.
“We need more production from him,” Tortorella said. “You’ve got guys grinding their asses off developing scoring chances. We need some of our skilled guys to score for us. It’s not effort…Some guys just need to score a goal to gain some confidence.”
Brandon Dubinsky feels he is one of the players that needs to step it up offensively. “I have to start putting the puck in the net more,” he admitted. “That is why I get 21 minutes a game and why I am on the power play. I need to start burying my chances more. Dubinsky has just one goal in his last nine games.
The Rangers were continued to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-3 with the extra man. They are now 1-for-17 in their last five games.
“We are trying to be too cute–not getting shots through,” Stepan said when asked about the club’s struggles on the power play. “”It’s something we will figure out. It is just about getting a group of guys with the right mindset and continuing to work hard–whatever it takes to get us back to being a good power play team. It’s a huge part of the game for us.”
The Rangers started to put consistent pressure on the Flyers net late in the second period and the effort carried over into the third. The line of Derek Stepan, Wolski and Mats Zuccarello provided both goals for New York with Wolski scoring on a bad angle shot from the goal line at 9:13 and Stepan beating Brian Boucher from the left circle 2:23 later to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 3-2.
The line has been playing well of late. “We were working hard, and I think it was just a lot of puck pursuit, finishing checks, and supporting each other that led to our chances,” Wolski said when asked about the play of his line. “I think we did a really good job of getting in there and controlling the puck.”
The Rangers pulled Biron with 1:40 left in the third period but couldn’t put the tying goal past Boucher. It was the third loss in the last four games for the Broadway Blues.
The Rangers scratched Dale Weise while Oskars Bartulis and Daniel Carcillo sat out for the Flyers.
Matt Gilroy played in his 100th career NHL game.