The New York Rangers came out of the gate like a runaway freight train, led 2-0 before the game was three minutes old, and cruised to a 4-1 victory over the division rival Philadelphia Flyers. Dan Carcillo, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider lit the lamp for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves–many of them late in the game–as Philly tried desperately to rally. The win is the Blueshirts' 3rd in a row.
A loud Garden is a happy Garden, and at long last, the Rangers were able to start fast on home ice and get the crowd into the game. Carcillo opened the scoring with his first as a Blueshirt 2:14 into the opening frame, when Ray Emery was caught looking the wrong way and beaten on a wrap around.
The fans were stunned, the Flyers were stunned, and the floodgates were opened.
Just 28 seconds later, Nash scored his second in as many games when he waltzed into the slot unimpeded and buried a feed from Chris Kreider to make it 2-0. Before the period was half over, Brassard would add a goal on a one-timer, courtesy of yet another brilliant pass from Mats Zuccarello–something that's fast becoming a daily occurrence.
Henrik Lundqvist said:
"The way we started the game helped everyone in here. We got the crowd going and we got ourselves going."
That's been the goal for a while now. Far too often the Garden has been silent early on as the Rangers come out flat and fall behind. But on this night, it was quite the opposite.
The Rangers were the faster team, they were the more physical team, their passing was crisper, and they simply overwhelmed Philadelphia with wave after wave of pressure early on. It was the archetype of what Alain Vigneault hockey is supposed to be all about–fast, aggressive, and creative.
In truth, this one could've been 5 or 6-0 at the end of the 2nd. Kreider scored a power play goal on a patient move and fortunate finish, using Nash as a decoy and incidentally banking the puck in off a beleaguered Braydon Coburn. The goal made it 4-0 with under 7 to play in the frame, and gave the Blueshirts power play goals in 5 straight for the first time since December of 2010.
But, before Kreider's marker, the Rangers missed several glorious chances when Philly began a parade to the penalty box. Ryan McDonagh shanked a back-door attempt–on another feed from Zuccarello–with an empty net staring him in the face, and Benoit Pouliot missed the net on a deflection try in front.
4-0 was more than enough though. Try as the Flyers might–and they certainly did try, tossing 15 shots on net in the 3rd–they could not mount a late comeback. The Rangers made it more interesting than it should've been by getting away from their game and into penalty trouble, but Lundqvist was sublime, and never let Philly get closer than 3. Alain Vigneault said, with a chuckle, of his tender's improved play:
"I’m just focused on one thing with him: stopping the puck. How he does it, I don’t really care that much."
With the win, Lundqvist has his first 3-game winning streak of the year, and the Rangers get back to .500 (10-10-3) on home ice. The Blueshirts' improve to a season-best 4 games over .500 (24-20-3), and have won 3 in a row for the first time since early November.
With 8 of the remaining 12 before the Olympic break on home ice, the Rangers' new found prowess at the Garden will be put to the test, but last night, they followed the blueprint, and reminded everyone that a loud Garden is a daunting place for opponents to play.
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