New York, NY – There has been a disturbing trend with the New York Rangers (31-26-4) as this second half of the NHL season has developed. After winning many close games in the beginning of the season, the Blueshirts have not been able to find the goals they need to succeed.
This was the case in the physical and emotional 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers (39-15-5) in hockey action on Sunday afternoon. Not only did the Rangers lose the game but they also lost star winger Marian Gaborik to a concussion in the second period of play.
“I am frustrated for them because I think they worked their tails off,” head coach John Tortorella said. “We worked so hard to score a goal and they throw a backhander and another. It is frustrating but the belief in the team gets stronger for me. It is about results. It is about winning, but we just haven’t been able to do that consistently. Especially we just haven’t been able to find the results we want in the second half of the year here.”
The guys in the locker room after the game were frustrated as well, seeing the hard work not resulting in the results that the squad was hoping for.
“We have to win games now, it doesn’t matter how you play or what happens during the game. We need the two points and we have a lot of teams nipping at our heels now.” winger Ryan Callahan said. “It doesn’t matter if we play great and don’t get two points, at the end of the day, we need two points to get into the playoffs and have good position.”
Brandon Dubinsky echoed those sentiments saying, “We have to find a way to get results and we have to find a way to bury a goal. We have to find a way to outwork our opponents. Today I thought we outplayed them today, and if we play the way we did today we are going to win a lot of hockey games.”
In the beginning of the game the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden as the 18,200 in attendance rocked the Garden early and often. The Rangers set the tone early as Mats Zuccarello dished out a great hit at the 1:31 mark right in the center of the ice in the middle of the Blueshirts logo.
New York then found offensive momentum at the 12:43 mark of the first period. As Wojtek Wolski (10) netted an eight foot wrister, which was assisted by Ryan McDonagh (3) and Michael Sauer (7) for the 1-0 Rangers lead. ‘The Polish Prince’ was able to let of that wrister as he was falling to his knees in an attempt to drive to the net.
Philadelphia would respond on a deflected shot by Jeff Carter (27) at the 16:42 mark, which was assisted by Claude Giroux (34) and Scott Hartnell (19) to tie the game up at 1-1. The Rangers had plenty of opportunities to end the first period of play with the lead as they outshot the Flyers 14-9, but could not find an answer in that frame.
The Rangers would continue to put pucks on the net as the second period began, as Ryan Callahan tried for nine foot tip in at the 0:30 mark, which would be denied by Flyers keeper Brian Boucher. The Philadelphia keeper would continue to show the Rangers no love stuffing a 32 foot backhanded shot at the 7:28 mark by Artem Anisimov.
It would be a penalty taken by Wojtek Wolski at the 12:29 mark of that frame that would give the Flyers their third power play opportunity along with the 2-1 lead. Giroux (20) would net a 20 foot wrister, which was assisted by Carter (25) and Hartnell (20).
Members of the New York Media were then informed by the Rangers public relations staff that winger Marian Gaborik would not return to the game, in what would be revealed to be later on due to concussion symptoms.
“We don’t know for sure when it happened, for sure we know it didn‘t happen today” Tortorella said. “He came up to us and said that he wasn’t feeling well.”
The air and the positive momentum would totally be lost for the Rangers at the 16:26 mark as Daniel Carcillo (4) tallied an eight foot backhander for the 3-1 Flyers lead. As the second period came to an end the Rangers still had the shots advantage by a tally of 24-21, but none have gone past the pads of Brian Boucher.
Boucher would continue to deny the Rangers time-and-time again as the third period began as Ryan Callahan had a 44 foot slap shot stoned at the 2:50 mark. Sean Avery also had a pretty six foot backhanded shot denied by the Flyers keeper at the 4:16 mark as the Rangers still could not find the momentum needed.
Fans of the Flyers had a scary moment at the 15:06 mark as blue liner Kimmo Timonen’s leg accidentally hit the head of his teammate Boucher. The Philadelphia keeper would lay face down on the Rangers ice kicking his legs in pain, before slowly getting up and eventually resumed his position in the cage.
New York would make the game close as at the 5:28 mark Derek Stepan (16) recorded an eight foot wrister, which was assisted by Dan Girardi (22) and Marc Staal (16). It was a sweet setup by the Blueshirts as Girardi would bounce the puck off the backboards, that puck would find its way to Stepan who would bury it home.
With the score standing at 3-2 in favor of the Flyers life came back to Madison Square Garden. The building began to buzz again in anticipation of another magical comeback. Stepan had a golden opportunity at the 6:55 mark of that frame, but it would be denied by the play of Boucher.
In spite of the fact that the Battling Blueshirts pulling keeper Henrik Lundqvist in the winding minutes of the third period of play to try to gain the offensive momentum. That move instead worked for the Flyers as at the 19:14 mark Kris Versteeg (15) would fire in a 72 foot wrister to cap the 4-2 victory.
Lundqvist would finish the night with 20 saves in the cage for the Rangers, while Boucher had 37 saves in a stellar effort for Philadelphia.
“It is disappointing because you know how important it is for us right now to get these points,” Lundqvist said. “Unfortunately it is the same story, different day. We come close, we created enough chances to win or at least tie the game. They are a good team and we came close, but it doesn’t matter, we need two points and we are not getting them right now.”
New York will now have a tough road stretch starting with a visit to North Carolina for a 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night face off. The squad will then head to Washington, D.C. for a Friday night face off, before returning home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.