The Rangers have finally figured out how to tank. Alain Vigneault’s team is playing exciting hockey and keeping every game close, but coming out on the losing-end for the most part, with a thrilling triumph sprinkled in every now and then. The Broadway Blueshirts’ tank rolled on at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, as the Rangers fell to the Flyers by a final score of 4-3, extending their losing skid to three games, and giving the Flyers to crucial points towards their playoff push.
Entering Thursday night’s contest the Rangers had surrendered the first goal of the game 43 times, and they would add to that total, as Travis Konecny opened the scoring and put the Flyers on the board 7:56 into the game. After to key saves by Alexandar Georgiev to keep the deficit at one, Mika Zibanejad beatin Alex Lyon through the five-hole to tie the game. Riding a four-game goal streak and now leading the Blueshirts with a career-high 26 goals, the Swedish center is on fire. Also picking up his 11th helper in the last 11 games was Neal Pionk, who leads all NHL defenseman in assists since February 28th, and is the first Rangers defenseman to record 11 or more points in an 11 game span since the great Brian Leetch did so in the 2000-2001 season.
Zibanejad scores his 26th of the year to tie it 1-1, Fast & Pionk with the assists pic.twitter.com/0NmGqhYBMC
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 22, 2018
Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny both struck early in the second period, resulting in a 3-1 Flyer lead; however, Jesper Fast brought the Rangers within one late in the frame, and in the process Chris Kreider recorded an apple to extend his point streak to four games, and give him an impressive 8 points over that stretch.
Oskar Lindblom re-established the Flyers’ two-goal lead just eight seconds into the third period, but Jesper Fast again shrunk Philadelphia’s lead to one, only 1:20 later. “Quickie”, who tallied three points on Thursday, is currently on a career-high seven-game point streak, has established a new career-high in goals with twelve, and has now posted his first-career three-point night. The newly formed first-line of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Jesper Fast continues to be a bright spot, as they have notched a combined 20 points over the last four games.
Although they had plenty of chances, the Boys in Blue were unable to find the back of the net and knot the score at 4, so the Flyers emerged victorious in what was a hard-fought contest. Both rookie goaltenders were excellent throughout, but Alex Lyon would prevail. The Flyers were led by three assists from Claude Giroux and a two-goal night from Giroux’s line-mate: Travis Konecny, who now has 22 tallies on the campaign. Philadelphia currently holds the first wild-card spot of the Eastern Conference standings, four points ahead of the New Jersey Devils, who sit in the second spot.
The Blueshirts will return home on Saturday night when they take on the NHL’s worst team: The Buffalo Sabres (7:00 PM, MSG). This will be the third and final matchup between these two squads, with the first two both going to the Rangers, and one of them coming in the frigid 2018 Bridgestone Winter Classic.
Brian Paget is on Twitter @BrianPaget17