The Rangers made a spirited comeback in the third period and secured a huge point, but the end result felt a little empty.
Former Ranger Kevin Hayes scored the only goal of the shootout as the Rangers came up short in a 4-3 loss at Madison Square Garden last night.
This was a strange game in that the Rangers were dictating the play, but they had a number of defensive lapses that led to odd man rushes and breakaways for the Flyers.
“We made some bad mistakes. We didn’t give them a whole lot of chances but we gave them grade A breakaways, the two on ones, that’s what really hurt us tonight,” said head coach Gerard Gallant.
The Rangers outshot the Flyers 46-26 for the game but it took two plus periods to beat Flyers goalie Martin Jones, who made 43 saves and was struggling coming into the game. Jones had lost 12 of his last 14 games, while giving up an average of four goals per game (56) during that span.
In the first period, Rangers’ goaltender Igor Shesterkin was stunned for a pair of Flyers’ goals, 50 seconds apart. Cam York and Owen Tippett beat Shesterkin to give Philly a 2-0 lead after one.
The score remained the same after a scoreless second period, but the Rangers had now failed to score a goal in five consecutive periods. The Rangers were also a little unlucky as they had a number of shots hit the post.
After Joel Farabee gave Philadelphia took a 3-0 lead just 44 seconds into the third period, the Rangers finally broke a five period scoreless streak to climb back in it.
Artemi Panarin, who had a goal and an assist, scored his 19th goal on a deflection to get the Rangers on the board at 1:22 of the third.
With 4:32 remaining in the third period, Mika Zibanejad made it 3-2 as he scored his 27th goal on a rebound from a Frank Vatrano shot.
12 seconds later, Andrew Copp took a beautiful feed from Panarin and flipped it past Jones for his 16th of the season that tied the game at three. It was Copp’s third goal as a Ranger and he has now scored points in six of seven games since joining the team.
“It was a really good comeback by us in the third,” Copp said after the game.
The Rangers were 0 for 3 on the power play that included a chance in the final minutes of regulation. Jones made some big saves late in the third, including denying Jonny Brodzinski with less than 17 seconds remaining.
In overtime, Shesterkin, who made 23 saves, stole the show as he made three consecutive saves on the Flyers’ Morgan Frost within a ten second span and then stoned Farabee with less than 30 seconds left in overtime.
In the shootout, Hayes scored on the Flyers’ third attempt. Panarin, Zibanejad and Filip Chytil failed to score for the Rangers as they dropped their second straight at the Garden.
“It was a point, there’s no doubt. Being down 3-0. I think they scored the first shift of the third and then to battle back and get that point, it’s a big point. No doubt,” Gallant said.
Despite the loss, the Rangers lead the Pittsburgh Penguins by two points for second place in the Metropolitan Division. More important, the Rangers have a ten point lead over the fourth place Washington Capitals, who lost last night.
The Rangers are gearing up for their first playoff appearance in five years (2020 was not a real playoff appearance). Copp, who brings 34 games of playoff experience, knows you won’t have the lead in every playoff game and you’re going to have to be able to play from behind.
“Even though we didn’t get the extra point at the end, the confidence gained from the way we played the last two periods, to be able to come back from something like that which is gonna happen in the playoffs for sure,” Copp said.