PHILADELPHIA – Dan Carcillo’s bloody knuckles came at the expense of an unlikely victim.
Ray Emery made 24 saves for his second shutout of the season, and James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards scored in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
But Carcillo’s fight against Rangers star Marian Gaborik overshadowed another strong effort by the resurgent Flyers.
Rangers coach John Tortorella was furious that Philadelphia’s enforcer went after his best player and sarcastically called Carcillo “a brave guy.”
“There’s no honour in that,” Tortorella said. “I don’t play the game, I don’t wear the uniform, I don’t want to say too much about it, but there’s simply no honour in that.”
Carcillo floored Gaborik with a hard uppercut early in the second period after the two-time all-star surprisingly dropped his gloves first.
“I didn’t really expect to fight who I fought, but it kind of worked out,” Carcillo said. “I don’t know who on that line would have been able to help him though. I wasn’t expecting him to drop his gloves, but when he did, I pretty much was licking my chops.”
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette defended his player.
“Gabby dropped his gloves first,” Laviolette said. “Danny can either get punched in the face or fight.”
Carcillo’s knockout sparked a feisty period. Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell knocked Sean Avery down with two solid rights to the face several minutes later. Avery then got the better of Carcillo in the final minute of the period. Carcillo said he was reluctant to throw punches because of the cuts on his hand.
Avery tried to goad Richards into a fight with 7 seconds left in the game, but Philadelphia’s captain kept his cool.
“Any time you fight their best player, you’re going to have guys come after you and that’s the nature of the game and Avery did his thing, and that was it,” Carcillo said.
Making his third straight start since returning from abdominal surgery, Emery cooled off a team that had scored 14 goals in consecutive wins.
“The guys played really physical and stayed out of the (penalty) box as well,” Emery said. “Any time you can do that, you put yourself in a good spot.”
The Flyers have moved into the Eastern Conference playoff picture by going 10-3-1 since losing to Florida on Dec. 21.
Despite their recent success, the Rangers have been shutout three times in the last six games. They were 6-2-3 since the Flyers dominated them in a 6-0 victory on Dec. 30.
A trip to Philly usually results in victory for the Rangers. They’re 14-3-1 at the Wachovia Center since March 27, 2004.
“I thought they did a really great job in the neutral zone, they play a lock style, they defended the red line well,” Tortorella said. “We have to give them a lot of credit there.”
Van Riemsdyk gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with a breakaway goal late in the first period. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped van Riemsdyk’s first shot, but he scored on a backhander off the rebound.
Richards scored a power-play goal with three seconds left in the second period to make it 2-0. His slap shot from just inside the left faceoff circle went through a screen, hit defenceman Marc Staal’s skate and trickled in.
NOTES: Emery has 10 career shutouts. His previous one was against Carolina in Philadelphia’s season opener. … The Flyers are 12-10-2 since Laviolette replaced John Stevens as coach. … Richards’ goal was his 20th, giving him the team lead. … Lundqvist fell to 7-2 in Philly. … The Flyers are 2-0 during their six-game homestand.