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Rangers eye their next shot at Flyers

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

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The Rangers had to wait nearly seven months to try and exact some revenge from the Flyers for ousting them from playoff contention on the final day of the 2009-10 regular season.

However, after falling to Philadelphia 4-1 on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Rangers will have to wait until mid-December for their next opportunity to pin a loss on their  Atlantic Division rivals.

“It was just one of those games where you get all this hype about it and to me it was a (ugly) game,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “I’m sure they don’t feel that way, they win it 4-1, but to me it was sloppy offensively. They didn’t have that many chances either.”

Thursday’s battle swung permanently in the home team’s favor over a 10 minute stretch in the second period. In that span, the Flyers erased a 1-0 Rangers lead and turned it into their own 3-1 advantage.

To make matters just a touch more painful for the visitors was the fact that former Rangers Blair Betts and Nikolay Zherdev scored two of those three goals that put Philadelphia ahead for good.

The second period actually started on a decidedly upbeat note for the Rangers after a scoreless first period that was largely controlled by the Flyers, who outshot their counterparts by an 8-2 margin.

Brandon Dubinsky deposited his team-leading eighth goal of the season into the back of the net during a power play just 1:53 into the second period to hand the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, though, Dan Girardi was penalized for holding the stick, and just under two minutes after that Philadelphia had tied the game.

Flyers’ captain Mike Richards was left all alone in front as both Rangers’ defensemen -- Michael Sauer and Marc Staal -- battled for the puck to Henrik Lundqvist’s left. Claude Giroux collected the loose puck, found Richards in front, and the puck was quickly roofed into the top of the cage at 5:12 of the second.

Betts then made his former team pay when he collected a Michael Del Zotto giveaway in front of Lundqvist’s net and, after being stopped on his first attempt, lifted a rebound over the fallen Rangers’ goalie at 9:32 for an unassisted goal.

“I think one of the big turning points was when we give them a free one by turning the puck over,” Tortorella said of the Betts goal. “Michael’s trying, but I think he needs to use his partner there. That second goal was a tough one. They’re too good a team to give them a goal.”

Six minutes later, Zherdev scored a fluky goal from right wing that somehow deflected off Lundqvist’s stick, then his chest, before rolling up and over his shoulder. That goal put the Flyers well on their way to their fifth consecutive victory.

Three goals in just over 10 minutes for Philly -- and from there the Flyers put a stranglehold on the game.

“They are pretty sound, or they were (Thursday) night anyway,” center Brian Boyle said of the Flyers. “We knew it was going to be tough and I don’t think it was for lack of preparation, but they were able to get it done.”

Rangers forward Sean Avery is stopped on a scoring attempt by Philadelphia rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. The undrafted 22-year-old Russian finished with 20 saves. Shots on goal were tied at 21 for each team.
The Rangers did not go down without a fight -- literally. Brandon Prust pounded Dan Carcillo in a third-period fight, not dissimilar to how Derek Boogaard got the best of another ex-Ranger, Jody Shelley, in the opening period.

“That’s our mentality every game and I think we’ve done a good job with that this year, sticking up for one another and backing each other up no matter what,” said Prust. “I was trying to get the guys going.”

What spurred Prust into action, in particular, was an unpenalized elbow delivered by Carcillo to the head of Ruslan Fedotenko early in the third period. Fedotenko had his head down looking for the puck in his skates when Carcillo lunged at the Rangers winger and knocked him to the ice with an elbow to the head.

“If the league is trying to stop hits to the head, they will address it,” said Fedotenko after the game. “It was a shot to the head, and I’m sure the NHL will review it and see if it’s a clear hit to the head or not.”

Despite the rough stuff, in the end the Flyers -- who also received a third-period power-play score from Chris Pronger -- were able to stymie the Rangers at nearly every turn.

As a result the Rangers’ two-game win streak is over, and they will now have to gain some retribution when they return to Philadelphia in the teams’ next meeting on Dec. 18.

“It’s always tough when you get the lead, and then we couldn’t seem to generate too much after that,” said Prust. “We had a couple breakdowns that cost us, a couple penalties that cost us.”

First and foremost now the Rangers have to get ready for another important Atlantic Division road contest on Friday when they skate against the Devils in Newark.

The Rangers defeated the Devils 3-1 at Madison Square Garden back on Oct. 24 in the only other meeting between these Hudson River rivals so far this season.

“That’s the best medicine. We’ll go back at it (Friday),” said Boyle.
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