Ranger Things Have Happened as they Outlast Flyers

AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie

The goal song at Madison Square Garden got quite a workout last night.

Adam Fox scored at :36 seconds of overtime to give the Rangers a wild, 6-5 win over a gritty Philadelphia Flyers team that did everything but come away with two points.

I thought we battled hard. We knew this was gonna be a tough game,” said Mika Zibanejad who had a goal and an assist. “They’re [the Flyers] obviously in a position too where they’re battling. This time of year, teams are really working for those two points and they’re important points.”

Igor Shesterkin made 36 saves but he was under siege at times from a Flyers team that is looking to qualify for the playoffs.

It was a night of milestones as the Rangers became the first team to 100 points and the first team to clinch a playoff berth while Peter Laviolette recorded his 800th career win as a head coach in the NHL.

Artemi Panarin had two assists and went over 100 points for the first time in his career. Alexis Lafreniere had two goals, his third multi-goal game of the season and Vincent Trocheck also had a goal and an assist.

The Rangers literally outlasted a Flyers team that came from behind three times in a wild third period that saw 7 goals scored. “I think we came out just trying to get pucks to the net, you saw some of those goals were just shot attempts. They would block it but second opportunity, I think that was kind of the mindset there,” said Fox.

The Rangers trailed 2-1 after two but tied the game at 1:23 of the third period on Jonny Brodzinski’s 6th goal of the season that came off of a beautiful pass from Kappo Kakko. Brodzinski was supposed to be a healthy scratch but was in the lineup after Alex Wennberg was scratched for personal reasons as his wife is about to give birth.

One minute and 34 seconds later, the Rangers took a 3-2 lead when Lafreniere scored the first of his two goals. The puck bounced in the air in front of the net but Lafreniere was able to back hand it past three Flyers and goaltender Samuel Errson.

Travis Konecny, who always plays well against the Rangers, completed a 2 on 1 rush as he sniped one past Shesterkin on the glove side to tie the game at 3.

Thus began a pattern of both teams trading goals.

With Zac Jones in the box for high sticking, the Rangers had a 2 on 1 odd man rush and Zibanejad held the puck long enough to back hand a pass to Trocheck who scored his first shorthanded goal as a Ranger and his 25th of the season to make it a 4-3 lead at 9:34 of the third.

Less than two minutes later, the Flyers tied the game again as Owen Tippett got behind the Ranger defense and backhanded the puck past Shesterkin to make it a 4-4 game.

A little over two minutes after that tying goal, Lafreniere scored his second of the game and 22nd of the season to put the Rangers ahead for a third time, 5-4. Following an offensive zone face off, the puck was loose in the left faceoff circle and Lafreniere pounced on it and put a wrister on net that first hit the post and then went in with 6:01 remaining in the third period.

The gritty Flyers would not quit however as they are fighting for a playoff spot and they played like it. With a little over three and half minutes left, there was a scramble in front of Shesterkin and the puck came free. Tyson Foerster was able to bury it to tie the game at five and force overtime before the Rangers showed some resilience of their own as Fox was able to finally put the Flyers away.

I thought it was an off game for us, and I don’t think every game can be an on game, but what I liked was the fight in our guys,” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We got ahead of the game, and then we gave it back and then we got ahead of it and gave it back and we kept fighting.”

In overtime, Fox played the puck near the blue line, fed Trocheck along the left wing boards. Trocheck made nifty pass to Fox who was open in the slot and he buried the puck for his 15th goal of the season and the game winner. 

Coming out in the third and get goals like we did, it was nice,” Fox said. “It kinda shows that we’re able to come from behind like we’ve done recently.”

The Rangers were lethargic and were being outplayed by the Flyers for the first 35:28 seconds, but as was the case on Saturday, a power play goal got them going.

Zibanejad was set up in the left face off circle, his favorite spot with the man advantage. With Chris Kreider screening Errson, Zibanejad took a pass from

Panarin fired a wrister to cut the lead to 2-1. For Zibanejad, it was goal #24 on the season, his 11th on the power play and his 100th power play goal as a Ranger.

Brandon Scanlin made his NHL debut, replacing the injured Erik Gustafsson, and got 10:46 of ice time, but only three shifts in the third period.

The Rangers lead Carolina by three points for first in the Metropolitan Divsion and have a game in hand on the Hurricanes with ten games remaining in the regular season.

Just based on the season we’ve had there’s probably an assumption at some point that you’re gonna get in [the playoffs]. It’s not about that anymore, it’s about playing the right way. Feeling good about your game as you get near the playoffs, approach the playoffs and then you’d like to keep it consistent in the playoffs.”

After playing in Colorado Thursday night, the Rangers will have three road games left at Arizona, at Detroit and at the Islanders while the home slate

features the Penguins, Devils, Canadiens, Flyers, Islanders and the regular season finale against the Ottawa Senators on April 15th as they look to lock up the top spot in the Division.

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