Watching 38-year-old teammate Brendan Shanahan wheeled off the ice on a stretcher in the third period did nothing to change their fortunes.
Scottie Upshall scored a key goal in his Philadelphia debut and the physical Flyers beat the Rangers 5-3 on Saturday, but most of the post-game talk regarded Shanahan, who was injured in a violent collision with Flyers forward Mike Knuble.
“We were down already, but we wanted to try and win it for him,” said Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr, himself a target of the hard-hitting Flyers. “It happens in hockey but it’s tough to see.”
The initial reports on Shanahan were good. X-rays and a CT scan were negative, but he was to be kept overnight for observation at St. Vincent’s Hospital. The Rangers said he was alert and moving his extremities.
“You’re his friend first, teammate second,” defenceman Aaron Ward. “You feel for him, but he’s a resilient man.”
The right side of Knuble’s face was swollen, and the Flyers expressed concern he has broken bones around his eye. X-rays of his neck were negative and Knuble was allowed to accompany the team on the train back to Philadelphia. He was scheduled to be evaluated by a club physician Saturday night and then go for a CT scan on Sunday.
The win came in the Flyers’ first game following the trade of captain Peter Forsberg to the Nashville Predators.
New York also played the final period without goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who injured his left shoulder making a save, and defenceman Marek Malik. The Rangers had a season-high 23 shots in the period.
Lundqvist and coach Tom Renney said he was held out to give him rest before Sunday afternoon’s game against Chicago.
Upshall, part of the deal that sent Forsberg to the Predators during Thursday’s home loss to Toronto, scored on the Flyers’ first shot against backup Stephen Valiquette to give Philadelphia a 4-2 lead 2:33 into the period.
Dmitry Afanasenkov, stopped by Valiquette on a penalty shot, later scored to make it 5-2. Geoff Sanderson, whose shot hurt Lundqvist, R.J. Umberger and Simon Gagne also had goals. Antero Niittymaki made 40 saves.
Philadelphia, the NHL’s worst team, is 3-1-1 in its past five games and won for the first time this season with Forsberg out of the lineup (1-14-3).
“We’ve played better after the all-star break and now the Peter thing is over,” Niittymaki said. “We don’t have to worry about that anymore. We can just move on.”
The Rangers missed a chance to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Marian Hossa, Petr Prucha, and Matt Cullen scored but New York’s three-game winning streak was snapped.
Gagne made it 3-1 with his 31st goal of the season with 30.8 seconds left in the second period.
Lundqvist, still smarting from Sanderson’s hard shot that hurt him 1:25 into the period, banged his stick in frustration. It marked just the third time in 14 games that Lundqvist allowed more than two goals.
Sanderson was the first Flyers player to get to him. Despite a first period in which New York held a huge shots advantage and a 6-0 power-play edge, Sanderson made it 1-0 with 6:31 left in the first period.
Philadelphia led even though it was outshot 13-2.
Hossa tied it for New York 2:26 later by tipping in rookie defenceman Daniel Girardi’s shot. It was Girardi’s first NHL point in 10 career games.
But another late-period goal restored Philadelphia’s lead. Umberger got to a turnover in the neutral zone and went in alone on Lundqvist. His shot between the pads with 1:09 left in the period was the Flyers’ 12th short-handed goal of the season – second-best in the NHL – and the league-low second allowed by the Rangers.
“I didn’t think we competed enough,” Renney said. “We needed to initiate it ourselves and sustain but we chose not to do that.”
Philadelphia started strong against the Rangers. Hard-hitting forwards Ben Eager and Todd Fedoruk took three roughing penalties in the first 6:20, and Mike Richards fought New York’s Sean Avery midway through the period.
“There was no feeling-out process, they just starting running” said Ward, who took four stitches above his left eye and cut his hand during a third-period fight with Alexandre Picard.
Prucha cut New York’s deficit to 4-2 at 5:57 of the third, converting Jagr’s rebound for his 13th goal. Jagr was drilled late along the end boards by defenceman Derian Hatcher as the goal was scored, one of several questionable hits against him that went unwhistled.
“If I have an opportunity to finish a hard check on him, I’m going to do it every time,” Fedoruk said. “It’s not often guys in my position are out against the top line. You hit a guy like that, it gets him thinking. It gets their team upset and off what they want to do.”
Notes: New York’s power play that scored six times in the previous nine chances was 1-for-9. . . . Philadelphia, 2-3-1 against New York, has killed 36 of 38 short-handed situations against the Rangers. . . . Avery got into a post-game shouting match with Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube in the hallway between the dressing rooms. Berube had 3,149 penalty minutes in 1,054 NHL games.