“I think we have to find a way to play 60 minutes like that [Wednesday against the Bruins],” Giroux said. “But that game feels really good right now.”
By Michael Donovan
Consecutive shutouts by back-up goalie Michael Neuvirth and a come-from-behind victory Wednesday night in Boston have given Flyers fans reason to hope.
But tonight they face a true test of how much better this Dave Hakstol-coached group is better than last season’s playoff-missing bunch.
The New York Rangers are at the Wells.
The Rangers (5-2-1) scored twice during a three-game skid, earning just one point in a 2-1 overtime loss to New Jersey on Sunday, before snapping it with a 4-0 win over San Jose on Monday followed by a 4-1 victory over Arizona on Thursday. The biggest takeaway may have been getting goals from two of their top scoring threats against the Coyotes.
Rick Nash and Chris Kreider finally found the back of the net – well, sort of – to end a seven-game opening drought. Kreider got his first goal on a redirect midway through the second period, while Nash earned his in more unusual fashion in the final minute.
Nash was awarded a goal when he was hooked on a breakaway with an empty net in front of him. The puck skidded into the corner, but Nash picked up his first of the season and 700th career point regardless.
Nash finished with a career-high 42 goals last season and Kreider added 21, but the two combined for five assists through the first seven games. Add in defensemanKeith Yandle’s first goal, and offensively things are looking up for the Rangers.
“All three of us are guys that they depend on for goals,” Nash said. “It’s something that we’re trying to work on and trying to get better in practice. The chances are there, it’s just a matter of getting the job done on the ice.”
Henrik Lundqvist continued to hold up his end of the bargain with 34 saves, lowering his goals-against average to 1.99 and building his save percentage to .938.
Lundqvist has enjoyed the rivalry with the Flyers (3-2-1), going 6-2-0 with a 2.02 GAA and .930 save percentage in his last eight starts in the series. He is 28-13-3 against them for his career.
The Rangers have won four of the last five meetings but have lost four of five in Philly, including a 4-2 defeat Feb. 28.
Wayne Simmonds, who scored in that game, helped the Flyers earn two points with a 5-4 overtime victory in Boston on Wednesday. Simmonds forced the extra period with a wrist shot midway through the third before Claude Giroux ended it with his second of the game.
The five goals gave the Flyers 13 for the season and marked its first game with more than three.
Giroux liked how his team rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period, but he cautioned against waiting until that point to make a push.
“I think we have to find a way to play 60 minutes like that,” Giroux said. “But that game feels really good right now.”
Steve Mason relieved Michal Neuvirth and allowed two goals while stopping 16 shots, including a dazzling glove save to keep the deficit at 4-2. Mason is in line to start against the Rangers, whom he is 5-3-1 against with a 2.46 GAA and .927 save percentage for his career.