Callahan's hat trick powers Rangers past Flyers, 5-2
Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 3:42 PM
Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing EditorPHILADELPHIA
-- The New York Rangers
' penalty kill has been the best part of their special teams play this season. On Saturday, the team's power play showed it could be special, too.
had a hat trick, including two of the Rangers' three power-play goals, in a 5-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers
, the seventh straight time they've beaten their Atlantic Division rivals.
It was the second hat trick of Callahan's NHL career, and both of them have come against the Flyers. He had four goals and an assist against Philadelphia on March 6, 2011.
had a goal and three assists, Brad Richards
had three assists and Henrik Lundqvist
made 31 saves as the Rangers extended their division lead on the Flyers to six points.
had a Gordie Howe hat trick for Philadelphia -- a goal, an assist and a third-period fight with Brian Boyle
-- and Claude Giroux
had a goal as the Flyers saw their winless skid against the Rangers approach a calendar year; their last win against them was Feb. 20, 2011.
It's the first time the Rangers have scored three power-play goals in a game since March 15, 2011, against the New York Islanders. The Rangers entered the game 27th in the League on the power play.
"(Power play) is going to be a huge thing coming down the stretch for us," said Richards. "Our PK is stellar. We've got to get the power play going."
They did that against the Flyers, and Callahan believed it's a culmination of something that's been building the last two games.
"Two games prior to this our power play started coming, I felt," he said. "We didn't score in that game, and then last game we get one and tonight we bang in a couple; just a matter of sticking with it. In here we know we have the personnel that can execute it and do it, just a matter of going out there and feeling good. Tonight we felt it."
They started feeling it early, as the Rangers went 2-for-3 with the man-advantage in the first period.
The Flyers were assessed an extra minor when Philadelphia's Tom Sestito
and New York's Stu Bickel
were sent to the penalty box, and Callahan took advantage at 8:25 when he scored from a sharp angle over Sergei Bobrovsky
's right pad.
After Simmonds' re-directed an Andrej Meszaros
shot from the right point to tie the game at 13:03 of the first, Gaborik put the Rangers back on top. With Meszaros off for hooking, Gaborik re-directed Richards' slap pass over Bobrovsky's blocker for his 27th of the season.
The Flyers tied the game early in the second when the Flyers took advantage of a Rangers line change and a falling Steve Eminger
that allowed Giroux to break in alone on Lundqvist. The Rangers goalie flopped to the ice and got his glove along the goal line, but Giroux powered the puck through Lundqvist for his 22nd of the season.
Less than two minutes later, however, the Flyers were whistled for another penalty, and once again the Rangers took advantage as Callahan scored off a cross-crease pass by Michael Del Zotto
at 9:15 that held up as the game-winner.
"Hopefully we keep rolling with it," Callahan said of the power play. "It's a matter of growing with it and getting chances. Tonight we buried some of our chances. We have to continue to do this. The power play is going to be huge down the stretch for us and into the playoffs. It's a big part of our game and it's good we got it going here."
The Rangers also improved to 50-0-2 when leading after two periods, a stretch that dates to the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
The Rangers made it 4-2 with an even-strength goal by Artem Anisimov
, and then Callahan finished his hat trick when he banged in the rebound of a Carl Hagelin
at 11:25 of the third. With 21 goals this season, he's two shy of the career-best 23 he had last season.
"Anytime you get three goals obviously you're excited," said Callahan. "It's a big game. Especially against a team that's so close to you in the standings and such a big game. I had some pretty easy tap-in goals there, so it wasn't all me tonight."
In fact, the Flyers were pretty adamant that they had some help in the Rangers' success. Giving the Rangers seven power plays was one part, but defenseman Kimmo Timonen
said his team had a shocking lack of effort.
"I was a little disappointed with the effort, the emotional level, against a top team in the Eastern Conference, the League," said Timonen. "To be honest, I think we had half the guys going and half the guys not (at the start). That was my opinion. You might have seen different but that's what I saw."
The Flyers won't have long to rediscover their effort, as they travel to League-leading Detroit for a game Sunday against the Red Wings (7:30 p.m., NBCSP, TSN2). The Wings will be going for their 20th straight home win, which would tie the NHL record.
"We just can't have one or two lines going and four (defensemen) or whatever," said Timonen. "We need everybody to get going here. This is the time of the year you need everybody going. If you don't, that (Saturday's game) happens. Tomorrow if we're not ready to play, it's an even tougher opponent than today."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK