NEW YORK -- There were punches. There were nasty hits. There was blood spilled on on the Madison Square Garden ice.
But for the Flyers, there haven’t been many wins. And wins, not fights, fuel rivalries.
Twice after the Flyers clawed back in the contest to erase one-goal deficits, Ilya Bryzgalov allowed soft goals and the Rangers continued their dominance over the Flyers with a 5-2 win that served as the appetizer in New York on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Flyers topped New York in 4 straight games to start last season and it’s been all Rangers since. Sunday marked the Rangers’ sixth straight win over the Flyers. New York has outscored the Flyers, 24-8, since March 6, 2011.
Sunday’s start was an ominous one for the Flyers, as Artem Anisimov’s redirection beat Bryzgalov just 64 seconds into the game.
The Flyers had registered just 7 shots in the first 28 minutes of the game.
But Brayden Schenn’s beautiful backhander on a breakaway out of the box in the second period, which shattered Henrik Lundqvist’s career-high shutout streak at 182:37, appeared to get the Flyers back into it.
That was until Marian Gaborik’s weak dribbler with 5.1 seconds left in the second period sent the Rangers to the locker room with a 2-1 lead. Gaborik, the Rangers’ leading scorer, was crushed along the boards by Andrej Meszaros and was slow to get up. He somehow retrieved the puck and leaked a backhander through Bryzgalov’s pads.
Somehow, Bryzgalov’s stick wasn’t in the right position as he tried to pokecheck Gaborik’s take from behind the net.
And that wasn’t even the Flyers’ backbreaker.
Wayne Simmonds scored just 57 seconds into the third period to knot the game on the power play - and Bryzgalov gave it back just 36 seconds later.
Michael Del Zotto left off a snap shot at the right circle on a 3-on-2 rush, which bounced off Bryzgalov’s pads and into the net to give New York a crippling 3-2 lead. Brandon Dubinsky iced it for the Rangers with 7:45 to play. Ruslan Fedotenko added an empty-netter.
The difference, as it has been most of the season, came down to the goaltending. Lundqvist has now held opponents to 2 or fewer goals in 26 of his 38 appearances this season.
The Flyers entered the weekend - with back-to-back games against Atlantic division rivals - with a chance to take over first place in both the division and the conference. They skated out of New York winless on the weekend. And winless against the Rangers.
SLAP SHOTS: Wayne Simmonds set a new career-high with 17 goals ... Brayden Schenn’s goal was his 3rd in his last 5 games ... Tom Sestito was dealt a game misconduct after fighting 3 times, twice with Stu Bickel and once with Brandon Prust ... There were 4 fights in all in Sunday’s matinee.
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