PHILADELPHIA -- After knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday in their first game back following the Olympic break, the Rangers fell 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, allowing their bitter division rivals to pull back within one point of them in the Metropolitan Division standings.
Though the Rangers erased a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the second period, the Flyers answered back with another pair of goals to seal the win in what was Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s return to the net.
Missed chances: Though the Rangers began to take over in the second period, rattling off two straight goals to pull even with the Flyers before Wayne Simmonds reclaimed a one-goal lead, the Blueshirts fumbled two Grade-A opportunities against Flyers netminder Steve Mason. Chris Kreider missed an open net with his backhanded attempt and J.T. Miller failed to cash in from the doorstep later in the frame. Derick Brassard, who knotted the score at two at 11:42 with a power-play goal, extended his point streak to eight games.
Rough start: Despite two power-play opportunities in the first five minutes of the game, the Rangers found themselves down 2-0 just 8:10 into play after a pair of Flyers goals. Defenseman Anton Stralman’s stick was to blame on a fluke-y first goal that was ultimately credited to Vincent Lecavalier. And just 66 seconds later Sean Couturier deked Lundqvist for his tenth of the season. The chippy first period featured some questionable hits on both ends of the ice, with Ryan McDonagh forced into the boards face-first by Scott Hartnell 1:57 into play and ex-Flyer Dan Carcillo absorbing a head shot from Zac Rinaldo late in the period. Flyers fans weren’t happy about Derek Stepan’s hit on Steve Downie with 2:20 left in the opening frame.
Contract confidence: Before the game, coach Alain Vigneault told reporters he was “confident” that the Rangers could re-sign captain Ryan Callahan before the trade deadline on March 5. The endorsement of faith from Vigneault came following Friday’s news that the Rangers signed defenseman Dan Girardi to a six-year, $33 million deal.
Back in action: Derek Dorsett returned to the lineup for the first time since January 3 after missing almost two months with a broken leg. The gritty winger, who replaced veteran center Dominic Moore, rounded out a physical fourth line with hulking pivot Brian Boyle and Carcillo.