In the first game of a home back-to-back set, the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the New York Rangers, 8-3, at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. The Flyers, who lost 9-0 at Madison Square Garden, fell behind, 6-0, in this one and never were able to get the halfway point of a comeback bid.
First period goals by Ryan Strome (11th of the season), Pavel Buchnevich (12th) and Mika Zibanejad (PP. 8th) had Philly back in the all-too-familiar turf of chasing the game.
Before the Flyers even knew what hit them, Zibanejad had another natural hat trick at their expense: scorching one-timers on the power play (goals number nine and 10 on the season) at the 54-second and 2:06 marks for a 5-0 lead. The Rangers then quickly scored again at 2:42, with K'Andre Miller doing the goal- scoring honors (3rd). The Flyers got two goals back on tallies by Claude Giroux (8th) and Kevin Hayes (10th) but still remained in a four-goal crater heading into the third period.
The Rangers and Flyers traded off a shorthanded Buchnevich (2nd of game, 13th overall) and a power play Couturier goal (9th) in the opening 90 seconds of the third period. Filip Chytil (5th) poked a puck over the goal line in the final two minutes.
Carter Hart was victimized for five goals on 11 shots in 22:06 of play. Brian Elliott went the rest of the way and stopped eight of 11 shots. Igor Sheshterkin denied 40 of 43 shots.
The Flyers went 2-for-3 on the power play, but also allowed the Buchnevich shorthanded goal. The PK, which had been a little better of late, suffered a 2-for-5 night.
Samuel Morin was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and activated from the Taxi Squad. A left winger in the two previous games he played with the NHL club this season, Morin returned to defense recently. On this night, he was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere. Ivan Provorov started alongside Justin Braun, while Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers were reunited.
Philadelphia also tweaked all four forward combinations, most notably via the creation of line with Hayes centering Giroux and Joel Farabee. Travis Konecny was on right with Couturier and James van Riemsdyk. Nolan Patrick centered Oskar Lindblom and Jakub Voracek. Scott Laughton went back to center and was reunited with Michael Raffl on left wing and Nicolas Aube-Kubel and the right.
The last thing the Flyers could afford to do after loose defense cost them the first goal of the game was to quickly give up another one. A mere 52-seconds after Strome opened the scoring, a 2-on-1 hookup between Chris Kreider and Buchnevich gave the Flyers a two-goal deficit. That set the tone for the parade of Rangers goals that followed in building a 6-0 cushion.
1) Various issues that have plagued the Flyers all season but especially during the nightmarish month of March: allowing an all-too-easy goal, giving up closely spaced tallies, failing to kill a penalty. By the time the game was 14 minutes along, Strome (1g, 1a), Zibanejad (1g, 1a), and Adam Fox (2a) already had multi-point nights. It would get worse.
On the Strome goal. the goal-scorer was untouched right in front of the net. The Flyers froze as Panarin showed shot and then threaded a pass through the stick of Ivan Provorov, beyond Jakub Voracek (on one knee) and to the wide-open Strome for a tap-in from the doorstep. The Buchnevich goal scored 52 seconds later came on a 2-on-1 rush for the Rangers. Provorov took away neither a shot from Chris Kreider nor a pass across, and Hart didn't get over far enough to come up with Buchnevich's goal to the glove side. The Zibanejad power goal was a high tip of a Fox shot.
2) Sheshterkin made eight saves in the first period; the best of which were stops on a Kevin Hayes turnaround shot from the slot and a scoring chance for Claude Giroux. Nicolas Aube-Kubel had a fight with Brendan Smith, looking to get something going on his side.
3) Boom, boom: The Rangers' Zibanejad buried a power play one-timer from the left circle at the 54-second mark and then another power play one-time from center slot at 2:06 for his second natural hat trick in the last two games against the Flyers. Fox picked up his third and fourth assists of the game. That ended Hart's night. Thirty-six seconds after play resumed, Miller greeted Elliott with a point shot goal through traffic. Zibanejad got an assist for his fifth point of the game.
4) A little over a minute after the Miller goal, Giroux finished off a Hayes setup in close to get the Flyers on the board and end their four-plus period goalless stretch against the Rangers. Farabee got the secondary assist.
The rest of the period was a shooting gallery in the Rangers' end, as the Flyers had an 18-7 shot edge in the frame.
Hayes bagged a power play goal from a tight angle on the left side off a Couturier set up to make it a 6-2 game at 13:34. Gostisbehere got the secondary assist. Thereafter, the Flyers had a slew of chances to cut the gap to three goals -- including back-to-back point blank chances on the power play for Patrick and then (off a Patrick pass) Voracek. Neither went in. The Flyers took 1:41 of carryover PP time into the third period.
5) The Flyers neither gained nor lost ground on the carryover power play. At the 33-second mark, on a shorthanded odd-man rush for the Rangers,. Zibanejad (3rd assist, sixth point of the game) lost the handle of the puck but it went right to Fox (5th assist of the game), who fed Buchnevich (2nd goal) for the SHG. At 1:28, the Flyers canceled it with a power play goal, as Couturier scored high-glove from the left hash marks off a Konecny pass. Gostisbehere got the secondary assist.
The Chytil goal momentarily appeared to banked in by Alexis Lafreniere from the behind the net but Chytil got a piece of it. With 1:26 left in the game, Morin laid a beating on Brendan Lemieux; one of the most hated players by opponents around the NHL.