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POSTGAME 5: That Special Feeling

Flyers use four goals on special teams to sweep the home and home series vs. Rangers and continue climb up the Metro

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
In the second half of a weekend home-and-home set, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Rangers, 5-3, at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. The game saw an 11 combined power plays between the two teams. 

Special teams goals by Matt Niskanen (8th goal of the season, power play), Sean Couturier (21st, power play) and Michael Raffl (7th, shorthanded) built a 3-0 lead for the Flyers in the first period. Derek Grant (1st as a Flyer, 15th of the season) and Travis Konecny (23rd, power play) sandwiched goals around a Mika Zibanejad (31st, power play) tally as the Flyers took a 5-1 edge to the third period. Third period goals by Pavel Buchnenich (15th, power play) and Zibanejad (32nd, power play) cut the final margin to 5-3.

Carter Hart earned the win on goal. He was outstanding in making 23 saves on 26 shots. Starting for the first time since Feb. 3, Henrik Lundqvist took the loss, stopping 21 of 26 shots.

Three Stars:
1st: Derek Grant (1g-1a)
2nd: Travis Konecny (1g-1a)
3rd: Mika Zibanejad (2g-1a)

Video: PHI@NYR: Raffl backhands Grant's feed home for SHGTURNING POINT
Both teams scored three power play goals on the afternoon. Philly won the overall special teams battle, 4-3, courtesy of a shorthanded goal by Raffl. The veteran Austrian winger started and finished the sequence; first with a body check in the defensive zone and then by converting Grant's feed on a 2-on-1 counterattack. At the time, the goal gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead. However, the play ended up looming large. There was a carryover effect in the second period before New York made a desperate push in the third.

MELTZER'S TAKE
1) The Rangers had the game's first scoring chance but Philly had the first power play and turned it into a 1-0 lead at 1:52. Good work by Nicolas Aube-Kubel to poke a loose puck in front across to Niskanen resulted in a goal for the veteran with Lundqvist down and out. At 11:19, precision puck movement from Travis Konecny to Jakub Voracek and a Voracek shoot looking for rebound produced a loose puck that went right to Couturier in the near center slot. A hit by Raffl at the defensive blueline created a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Derek Grant and Raffl made no mistake at 17:53.

2) Offensively, the Flyers were precise with their passes in the first period. They skated well, including a burst of speed by Aube-Kubel on a counterattack chance. Pucks were put to the net with teammates attacking the slot, and it paid dividends. Defensively, the first period left a bit to be desired for the Flyers. Hart stepped up big repeatedly, including a breakaway save on Mika Zibanejad and a point blank pad stop on Kaapo Kakko. Shots in the period were 13-9 Flyers. Attempts were 19-17 in the Rangers favor. High-danger chances for both sides were frequent, with an overall 8-7 Flyers edge.Video: PHI@NYR: Konecny deflects Voracek's shot home for PPG

3) The Flyers dominated the second period against a demoralized and gassed Rangers team. Tyler Pitlick won a race to the puck in the neutral zone and Grant got Lundqvist to bite on a deke-and-dangle play before depositing the puck in the net. The only downside to the period was a couple careless stick infractions by Philly. A Nate Thompson high stick penalty turned into a nicely executed deflection goal Zibanejad off a setup by Artemi Panarin. Philly got the goal right back on their fourth power play as they gained control off the first draw. Voracek racked up his sixth assist in the last two games as he sent the puck to the net and Konecny tipped it upstairs.

4) Hart had no chance on the Zibanejad goal, and was excellent again when given a reasonable chance at a save. Second period shots were 7-5 Flyers (20-14 Flyers through 40 minutes). Attempts were 17-16 Rangers (36-33 Rangers overall). High fanger scoring chances were 8-4 Flyers (16-11 Flyers overall). 

5) The Rangers moved the puck well on their power plays throughout the game. They struck for a second power play marker as Buchnevich scored a deflection goal at 5:33 of the third period. The Flyers paid for a failed clear as Zibanejad went upstais on the backhand at 12:39 as New York scored its third power play goal. The closeout for the Flyers wasn't nearly as emphatic as most of their recent ones, but they came up with some key blocks (one by Niskanen loomed big) and Hart was outstanding. Final shot attempts were 59-41 New York. Final high danger chances were 22-18 Rangers.

Video: PHI@NYR: Grant slips backhaner past LundqvistSTATISTICALLY SPEAKING
* The Flyers swept the home and home series and now have three straight wins over the Rangers and have outscored them 15 to 6 in the process.

* The Flyers also earned their sixth straight win to temporarily move one point behind the Washington Capitals for the Metro Division lead. Washington plays at Minnesota later in the evening.

* The game saw seven of the eight goals scored on special teams with the Flyers recording four (3PPG-1SHG).

* The last time the Flyers scored four goals on special teams in one game was Feb. 2, 2019 vs. Edmonton Oilers when they tallied FIVE goals on special teams, going 4-for-5 on the power play AND had one shorthanded goal.

* The Flyers scored four or more goals for the sixth straight game, marking the first time they have accomplished that since the 2005 season.

* Derek Grant scored his first goal as a Flyer and also added an assist for a two-point game. It's his ninth career multi-point game but his sixth this season. He also was 7-for-10 on faceoffs.

* Jake Voracek recorded two assists to give him seven points, all assists, in three games against the Rangers this season.

* The games get even bigger from now on as the Flyers now face off against the one and only team ahead of them in the Metro - the Washington Capitals. Puck drop in the nation's capital is 7 p.m. on NBCSN or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic.

THEY SAID IT
Video: Hear from Flyers coach following win over NYRVideo: Hear from Hayes, Grant and Hart following win

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