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Flyers hang tough with first-place Rangers but fall, 2-1

Jackie Spiegel, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Hockey

PHILADELPHIA — It felt like the good old days.

A nasty, in-your-face, hard-checking, high-octane battle between two division rivals in a boisterous Wells Fargo Center. In a game against the top team in the Metropolitan Division, a team that entered the game riding a nine-game winning streak, the measuring stick was out for the Flyers, and, even though they lost, 2-1 on a third-period goal by Matt Rempe, they hit the mark.

Not many people thought the Flyers would be in a playoff spot by Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the All-Star break, but here they are, and here they were going toe-to-toe with one of the NHL’s best teams. From the moment the puck dropped, the Flyers played their brand of hockey, using speed to put the Rangers on their heels on one end and eating pucks at the other. And they did it all without top scorer Travis Konecny who is day-to-day with a minor upper-body injury.

Yes, they had dips at times, as playing a full 60 minutes is still something the young group is working on, but like clockwork, they turned it on when needed in a game that saw more than 10 minutes of power plays. That time, by the way, did not include the heavyweight tilt between Nic Deslauriers and the 6-foot-7 rookie Rempe that left both bloody.

By the end of a goalless opening frame, the only thing standing between the Flyers and a hefty lead was Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin. The Flyers were buzzing and put 18 shots on him, including a number from high-danger areas and on the doorstep, but the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner was on his game.

Alexis Lafrenière finally broke through for New York in the second period. Three minutes after he was denied by the left pad of Sam Ersson after cutting across the crease and attempting a backhander, the Rangers forward buried a shot from the left faceoff circle off the rush.

It took some time for the Flyers to get one past Shesterkin, but they finally cashed in. After a less-than-energetic second period, the Flyers came out revved up for the third, and, 2 minutes, 36 seconds in, they tied things up. Scott Laughton carried the puck around the net, and — as he was falling — centered the puck to an open Tyson Foerster in front. Foerster returned to the lineup after missing four games with an injury to his right foot and picked up right where he left off. The rookie now has four goals in his last five games.

 

Rempe put the Rangers back in front with his first NHL goal. The Flyers had multiple chances to tie things up at the end of the game, including Sean Couturier hitting the post with six seconds left, but New York was able to hold on.

Breakaways

The Flyers finished with 40 shots on goal and held New York to 24. ... The Flyers once again skated with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. ... General manager Danny Brière said on the ABC broadcast that he is “not shopping” Laughton but “teams started calling” and “if something happens and makes too much sense for the organization we have to listen and that’s our duty.” ... Couturier played his first game at the Wells Fargo center since becoming captain.

Up next

The Flyers are in Pittsburgh on Sunday to take on the Penguins.


©2024 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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