Skip to main content

Steve Valiquette is perfect in shootout; Rangers beat Flyers 5-4

NEW YORK - Welcome to the NHL version of a windy day at Wrigley Field.

Pucks flew into the net at such a dizzying pace that the starting goalies for the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers were gone before two minutes elapsed in the second period.

The backups fared much better, and when it was over Steve Valiquette had his third win over the Flyers this season.

Coming on in relief of ineffective Henrik Lundqvist, Valiquette stopped 17 of 18 shots through overtime and was perfect in the shootout for the Rangers, who beat the Flyers 5-4 Sunday.

After Jeff Carter's second goal of the game got the Flyers even at 4 with 8:11 left in regulation, Brendan Shanahan and Nigel Dawes scored in the shootout. Valiquette, who has five wins this season including a pair of shutouts over Philadelphia, stopped defenceman Kimmo Timonen in the first round of the tiebreaker and kept out Carter's drive after it hit the left post.

"I was just focusing on staying square and taking away shooting options," Valiquette said after his ninth career NHL victory. "I didn't think it went in. I thought it was going wide. Then I heard it hit the post and I had to make sure I didn't kick it in. "

That snapped Philadelphia's three-game winning streak and extended the Rangers' surge to 7-0-2. The Flyers scored four goals for the second straight game, following a 4-1 win at the Islanders on Saturday, and have rebounded since an 0-8-2 skid.

In a matchup of goalies from the gold medal game at the 2006 Turin Olympics, Lundqvist, a member of winning Sweden, didn't come out for the second period after allowing three goals on eight shots.

Antero Niittymaki, who helped Finland to the silver two years ago, left after Christian Backman's first goal with the Rangers made it 4-3 1:51 into the second. Martin Biron stopped all 21 shots he faced before the shootout and had his three-game winning streak snapped.

"The first period was pretty wild," Niittymaki said. "Sometimes when it is that way you have to make a couple of big saves. I didn't do it and Lundqvist didn't do it. It kind of settled down after both teams pulled their goalies, but there were still scoring chances."

Vaclav Prospal gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead 1:08 in with his 30th goal, first since coming over from Tampa Bay, and Braydon Coburn and Carter also scored in the opening period.

"It's a great relief," Prospal said. "I hope I'm not done (scoring), but it's a very big number in the NHL."

Philadelphia is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Rangers and Boston and barely above Buffalo and the post-season cutoff.

"It's a good thing we got three points out of four this weekend," Niittymaki said.

Martin Straka, Ryan Callahan and newcomer Fredrik Sjostrom answered for the Rangers in the first period, which featured six goals on 21 shots.

Carter's second goal snapped Valiquette's shutout streak against the Flyers at 157 minutes, 45 seconds. Both of his NHL blankings came in Philadelphia. He other two wins this season took place in Toronto, so he finally had a chance to celebrate at Madison Square Garden.

"I went through (a shootout) last year, when I beat St. Louis, and I was really happy because it was in MSG," Valiquette said. "It's always nice to be a hockey player and have an MSG moment."

Biron had been in goal for each game of Philadelphia's three-game winning streak.

"It was kind of funny to see both starting goaltenders pulled relatively early," Shanahan said. "Henrik and I had a little chuckle on the bench when they pulled their guy. Just one of those nights."

Carter tied it for the fourth time with his third goal in two games and fourth in five.

Backman, playing his second game for New York since being acquired from St. Louis this week, finished the day for Niittymaki, who gave up four goals on 14 shots.

Niittymaki was staked to a 1-0 lead just 1:08 in when Prospal scored. Straka tied it 2:10 later with a power-play goal.

Coburn put Philadelphia back in front 2-1 with his second power-play goal in two days, but that lead didn't stick, either. Sjostrom scored his first with the Rangers at 11:36.

The Rangers grabbed their first lead 2:22 later on Callahan's fourth goal in seven games, but Philadelphia tied it at 15:47 during 4-on-4 play.

Backman had the only goal in the wild second period that featured a frantic end-to-end stretch that lasted 7:53 without a stoppage.

"There weren't any bad goals ... but if you want to win in this league you have to be able to make a couple of big saves," Niittymaki said. "I just wasn't able to do that."

Notes: Flyers D Jaroslav Modry returned quicker than expected from a left shoulder injury, missing only two games. He has a torn labrum that will require surgery after the season, but he will play through the pain. ... Backman was whistled for five penalties in his first two games with the Rangers, all different minor infractions.


Connor Bedard

Connor Bedard's Point Streak Hits 22 Games as Pats Beat Giants

Connor Bedard set his WHL career-best point streak Friday night against the Vancouver Giants — where some Canucks fans already had Bedard on their jersey.

Brock Nelson

Brock Nelson Evolves Into a Stealthy Scorer for the Islanders

Four years ago, Brock Nelson got a phone call from Barry Trotz. Since then, he's jumped up to the top six and is scoring for the Islanders like never before.

Ryan Reaves

Screen Shots: Ryan Reaves, Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers

Adam Proteau analyzes the Ryan Reaves trade for Minnesota, Ottawa's bleak future for this season and the increasing pressure in Edmonton.