PHILADELPHIA – Ilya Bryzgalov helped the Philadelphia Flyers brush off a lopsided power play and the worst start in franchise history.
It sure helped that the Flyers finally showed some scoring punch—and threw a few with their fists.
Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek scored to lead the Flyers to their first win of the season, 2-1 over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
The Flyers not only avoided their first 0-4 start in team history, they beat the Rangers for the first time in two seasons. The Rangers defeated the Flyers all six games last season, including a win in the Winter Classic.
Bryzgalov was fantastic in the third period when the Flyers killed consecutive 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 power plays. The fans went wild and gave the orange and black a standing ovation when the Flyers held off the Rangers for a total of 3 minutes, 59 seconds on the advantages. Bryzgalov made four saves over that span.
“I don’t know exactly what it means to say ‘Flyers hockey,’ but I like the way the team played tonight and I think we deserved the win,” he said.
The Flyers needed the good news after they learned All-Star forward Scott Hartnell is expected to miss four to eight weeks because of a broken left foot.
Forward Brayden Schenn served a one-game suspension for charging New Jersey defenceman Anton Volchenkov, and Philadelphia also played without forward Danny Briere (broken left wrist).
But the Flyers had enough to beat Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. Both teams are last in the Atlantic Division at 1-3.
Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette credited the fantastic special teams work on killing the lengthy Rangers power play.
“You never want to deal with 5-on-3s but you certainly don’t want to deal with them for 2 minutes,” he said. “Guys did a really good job executing and blocking shots, and we got a couple of big saves when we needed it.”
The Flyers were already facing a crucial contest only four games into a 48-game season and a weekend road swing ahead in Florida.
Before the game, general manager Paul Holmgren said Hartnell could be sidelined up to two months, and the team was “looking around” for scoring help. He quickly found it. The Flyers are on the brink of signing veteran forward Mike Knuble.
Knuble will take a physical on Friday and should be available for weekend games at Florida and Tampa Bay. Holmgren said it was 50-50 whether Briere will be available then.
The Flyers clearly had some frustration to take out, and they delivered against the Rangers.
Nicklas Grossmann crushed Marian Gaborik on a clean check into the side boards early in the first period that brought the crowd to life. In the second, Flyers forward Tye McGinn pummeled Kris Newbury. McGinn connected with rights to Newbury’s head before the punishment was mercifully stopped.
The Flyers, though, needed more scoring after tallying only three goals in the first three games. They scored twice in the second period.
Grossmann’s shot from the point knocked off a couple of Rangers before Simmonds deflected the puck into the net. Simmonds’ goal was briefly under review, but the call stood.
Just about every Flyers player touched the puck on a scrum in front of the net. Simmonds and Sean Couturier helped keep the puck alive before Voracek poked it in from the crease for the 2-0 lead.
The Flyers finally had something to show after they came up empty in an 11-shot first period. Lundqvist kept the shutout going early in the second when he snared Braydon Coburn’s slapper from the high slot. But two goals were enough, and Bryzgalov had a stout night.
Taylor Pyatt scored a power-play goal for the Rangers earlier in the third. It was New York’s second game in two nights after beating Boston in overtime Wednesday. The Rangers’ failure to score with a two-man advantage doomed them.
“We were doing a good job of getting people in shooting lanes, and Bryzgalov made some good saves, but the chances that we did have, we’ve got to find a way to capitalize on,” Pyatt said.
While Pyatt has three goals already, the Rangers need more from the top line of Gaborik, Brad Richards and Rick Nash.
Gaborik had a hat trick Wednesday in the trio’s first game together.
“We’re not getting enough good plays from our top guys,” coach John Tortorella said. “From some guys, yeah, we’re getting a good level. From others, absolutely not. We have to decide, consistently as a group, how we want to play. I thought we got some good shifts, but our top guys, Gabby, Richards, Nasher, just have to get going more.”
Notes: 76ers G Jrue Holiday, wearing a Flyers stocking cap, was at the game. He was chosen as an Eastern Conference All-Star on Thursday and received a warm ovation when he was introduced to the crowd. … The Rangers’ win over Boston on Wednesday night was watched by 956,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network, making it the most-watched NHL regular-season game on any cable station in 11 years. … Knuble played in 310 games over four seasons with the Flyers. He last played for Washington and played a game this week in the AHL. “I think he’s a good guy to throw in our mix right now with our injuries,” Holmgren said. … Flyers D Andrej Meszaros left with a shoulder injury.