PHILADELPHIA – Steve Valiquette prepares for each start by spending part of his morning in a tub full of ice.
The water in Philadelphia must be just right.
Valiquette made 31 saves to record his second straight shutout over the Flyers in the New York Rangers’ 2-0 win on Saturday.
Valiquette’s only other NHL shutout came in Philadelphia on Jan. 31. He made 20 saves in a 4-0 win. Valiquette has four wins this season, two in Philadelphia and two in Toronto.
“It’s the last thing anyone wants to do first thing in the morning,” Valiquette said of his chilly pre-game ritual. “But it’s a superstition. I’ve been doing it since juniors.”
Nigel Dawes and Scott Gomez scored power-play goals for the Rangers, who have dominated the Flyers in Philadelphia. New York has won 11 of its last 12 games at the Wachovia Center, and is 6-0-1 there since a loss on April 15, 2006.
“I don’t think it’ll stay that way, but I hope it does the rest of the season,” said Gomez, who helped the New Jersey Devils master the Flyers for years before changing teams. “You have to realize coming into this building that it’s a challenge. You have to take the fans out of it early.”
The Flyers have lost two straight to drop out of first place in the Atlantic Division behind Pittsburgh.
It was a typically feisty meeting between these rivals as several fights broke out. Six players dropped their gloves at one point in a very physical second period.
Linesman Pat Dapuzzo left the game after he was hit in the face by Steve Downie’s skate following a hard check by Rangers defenceman Fedor Tyutin against the boards.
While Dapuzzo was helped off the ice, leaving behind a trail of blood, a brawl ensued. Downie exchanged blows with Tyutin; Riley Cote and Colton Orr traded shots, and Jim Dowd and Ryan Hollweg went at it.
After the period ended, Flyers all-star Mike Richards took on Brandon Dubinsky.
All the pugilism inspired the sellout crowd more than the Flyers. They couldn’t manage to get even one shot past Valiquette, who hadn’t played since beating Philly 10 days earlier.
“The Rangers are a good defensive team,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “Their defence is mobile. They are big. They have been one of the best defensive teams all year.”
Dawes gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead late in the first period. He scored off his own rebound after Martin Biron made a kick save during a scramble in front.
Gomez scored on a deflection to put New York ahead 2-0 early in the second period.
Valiquette, who backs up Henrik Lundqvist, stoned Jeff Carter on a short-handed breakaway in the third period to preserve the two-goal advantage.
The Rangers snapped a two-game losing skid and won their fourth straight on the road.
“We need to find a way to focus this way at home,” Valiquette said.
Notes: The Rangers, who are five points behind the Penguins, play at Washington on Sunday. … Valiquette extended his shutout streak to 122 minutes, 30 seconds. … Flyers RW Joffrey Lupul returned to the lineup earlier than expected after missing more than a month with a spinal cord contusion. … Flyers D Braydon Coburn left with a lower body injury and didn’t return. … Rangers coach Tom Renney moved into a sixth-place tie with Phil Watson on the team’s victory list (119).