NEW YORK – The Flyers lost another starting goaltender, but their backup, Alex Lyon, was outstanding in relief as he keyed a 7-4 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Lyon, a rookie who was a onetime star at Yale, stopped 25 of 26 shots and restored some order to a sloppy game as he collected his first NHL victory.
“It’s huge for him,” said center Scott Laughton, who contributed a goal against shell-shocked Henrik Lundqvist. “He really kept us in the game and bailed us out on a couple plays. If he doesn’t do that, it’s a different hockey game.”
“That’s how you build confidence from within your teammates,” coach Dave Hakstol said after Lyon’s outstanding relief effort. “… It’s obviously a nice step for him to go in and have success and continue building confidence.”
It marked the second time in eight days a Flyers goalie had to leave a game with an injury. This time, it was Michal Neuvirth, who was apparently injured trying to stop a two-on-one rush toward the end of the first period.
With the score tied at 3-3, Neuvirth was replaced by Lyon at the start of the second period.
“I’m just happy and relieved more than anything,” said Lyon, who was making his fourth NHL appearance. “… Fun building. Great atmosphere.”
The Flyers, who avenged last month’s 5-1 loss in New York, increased their points streak to eight games (6-0-2) and stayed four points behind Pittsburgh, the new leader in the Metropolitan Division, and have two games in hand on the Penguins.
Midway through the third period, Claude Giroux gave the Flyers a 6-4 lead as he finished off a two-on-one with Travis Konecny (career-high three points) and became the 14th player in franchise history to reach 200 career goals. Giroux moved into seventh place on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list with 644 points, passing John LeClair.
Pending Sunday’s other results, Giroux moved into a tie for second in the NHL scoring race with 69 points.
Jori Lehtera (two points) added an insurance goal, his first tally of the season, with 7 minutes, 14 seconds left to make it 7-4.
Konecny’s 15th goal, a blast from the left circle that got past Lundqvist, gave the Flyers a 5-4 lead with 4:20 remaining in the second period.
It marked just the third time in 56 career games against the Flyers that Lundqvist had allowed at least five goals. Lundqvist, who had never yielded more than six goals against the Flyers, had been 11-1 in his last 12 home games against Philadelphia.
“I have to be better,” Lundqvist said.
Rangers center Mats Zuccarello said his team was “playing dumb defensively, letting people beat us to pucks, letting people beat us in front of the net.”
Rookie Nolan Patrick had scored on a rebound to put the Flyers ahead, 4-3, with 17:59 left in the second. Less than four minutes later, Peter Holland tied it on a second rebound as the Flyers defense left Lyon helpless.
There were three fights, including the first of Shayne Gostisbehere’s career; six goals; and plenty of hits after the whistle in a first period that ended in a 3-3 tie.
Fifteen seconds into the game, Gostisbehere stuck up for teammate Travis Konecny, who was hit by Pavel Buchnevich. Gostisbehere and Buchnevich then got into a scrap.
“I just heard a loud noise and saw him on the ground and I thought he got smoked,” Gostisbehere said. “I dropped the gloves. Never done that before. The boys were happy I did it.”
Because of injuries and ineffective play, the Rangers defense included four players who have spent most of the season in the minors. They were missing their captain, injured defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
So the Rangers, playing games on consecutive days, had a built-in excuse for surrendering early goals to Andrew MacDonald, Laughton, and Brandon Manning.
Manning took a gorgeous drop feed from Giroux (two assists) and finished a tic-tac-toe pass that gave the Flyers their first lead, 3-2, with 5:07 left in the first. Manning, who scored for the first time in 21 games, put a perfectly placed shot over Lundqvist’s shoulder.
But five seconds after an out-of-sync Flyers power play expired, Zuccarello finished off a two-on-one to tie the game at 3-3 with 2:39 to go in the opening period. Neuvirth was slow to get up after the goal but remained in the game.
In the first 20 minutes, the Flyers had numerous defensive breakdowns and seven giveaways.
“As our coach said, we didn’t really have it tonight, but we found ways,” Gostisbehere said.
Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the Rangers’ first game at the new Madison Square Garden, a 3-1 win over the Flyers. The Rangers outshot the Flyers, 45-18, and losing goalie Doug Favell fought Reg Fleming in the second period after the two received high-sticking penalties.