After the Flyers took the first leg of the home-and-home series, the Rangers are seeking payback on Sunday afternoon in Madison Square Garden (12:00 P.M. ET, NBC).
On Friday night, the Rangers played their third game in four nights in Philadelphia and it did not go according to plan. The Flyers proved to everyone why they are the best home team in the league by defeating the Blueshirts 5-2 and ending the Rangers nine-game road winning streak. The Rangers got off to a quick start on a goal from Jesper Fast from a beautiful assist by Artemi Panarin. With the assist, Panarin extended his point streak to 12 games and tied his career high. However, the game quickly turned south and the Flyers scored five unanswered goals to propel them to victory. The news got worse as Chris Kreider fractured his foot while blocking a shot and is out indefinitely. The only good news the Rangers got was the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets, who are also fighting for wild car positions, were defeated in regulation.
“We’ll get some rest and get ready to go on Sunday afternoon,” said head coach David Quinn. “I’m not worried how we’re going to handle adversity.”
Now with some rest, the Rangers will look to answer back and continue their playoff push. The Blueshirts will look to return the favor and end the Flyers five-game winning streak. Sunday afternoon will mark the first-time former Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault will return to Madison Square Garden since being fired by the Rangers. Vigneault, whose team has been perfect against the Rangers, will feel confident that his team can continue their winning ways. The Flyers have outscored the Rangers 10-3 between both meetings and have managed five goals in each game.
Not only will Vigneault be making his return to Madison Square Garden, so will former Rangers center Kevin Hayes. Hayes was traded by the Rangers at the 2019 trade deadline to Winnipeg and hasn’t returned to The Garden since. Hayes has three career points in two games against the Rangers which came this season.
Vigneault will turn right back to Carter Hart who recorded the win on Friday. Hart registered 26 saves in a winning effort.
Quinn will be keeping his cards close until the pregame media briefing. It’s unknown if he will once again go with Alex Georgiev who just allowed five goals, or if he will turn to veteran netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist hasn’t played a game since February 3rd against the Dallas Stars.
Quinn also will have to make a decision on who will replace Kreider on the top line. Julien Gauthier model’s his game after Kreider and could play a similar role Kreider did. Another option is Brendan Lemieux who will go to the tough areas and provide some grit and skill to the top line. Filip Chytil replaced Pavel Buchnevich on the wing when he was day-to-day while he was recovering from a car accident. Quinn could also load up the first line and play Panarin with Zibanejad. While that duo started the season, playing apart from one another at even strength has shown to be more effective. Panarin will be looking to extend his point streak to 13 games and breaking his career high.
Without any callups, Greg McKegg will rejoin the Rangers lineup after being a healthy scratch on Friday.