Playing for respectability in the waning weeks of the strike-shortened 2013 season, the Flyers managed to hold off a late rally from the Rangers Tuesday night for their 19th win of the season.
The Flyers (19-21-3), 5 points behind the Rangers for 8th place in the Eastern Conference, were fresh off of a 7-3 smackdown of the Montreal Canadiens comming into the Wells Fargo Center for Tuesday's game. Expectations were not quite that high, however, considering the Flyers' inability in general this season to be good for long stretches for time, not to mention recent acquisition Steve Mason starting. Mason got the nod over Ilya Bryzgalov, who has started 38 of the Flyers' 43 games this season.
Mason, though, likely surprised a few with his performance. Up until midway through the third period, he had allowed only one goal, and would finish the game 38-for-40 on save attempts, making what seemed like great stop after great stop all game.
Mason got some help from his teammates, who took the lead with a goal from Braden Schenn 9:30 into the first period. He was followed about eight minutes later by Sean Couturier, whose well-timed pass Erik Gustafsson fired past Henrik Lundqvist to put the Flyers up 2-0 to end the period.
The Rangers answered the Flyers early in the second on a goal by Mats Zuccarello, his first of the year. Midway through, however, the Flyers scored again, with Claude Giroux feeding Kimo Timonen a perfect pass after winning the face off. Kimonen took the puck and took a greatshot it into the goal, Lundqvist unable to defend it at all as it put Philadelphia up 3-1 at the end of two.
The momentum was completely in the Flyers favor until midway through the third period. The Rangers' Derek Stepan was able to get one past Mason, cutting the Flyers' lead to one with just over 10 minutes to play.
From then on, the pace of the game increased dramatically, with the Rangers desperately trying to hang on to their playoff spot. The Rangers came often to knock at Steve Mason's door, but Mason kept it shut, making great saves and continuing to play after suffering from what he would describe after the game as "cramps."
With less than two minutes left in the third, New York pulled Lundqvist for an extra offensive player. Jakub Voracek took a pass from Timonen across the ice, past New York defenders, and scored on the empty net. 4-2 Flyers, and that's how the game ended.
New York (21-17-4) has 46 points, tied with Winnipeg for 8th in the Eastern Conference. They host the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Philadelphia, with 5 points and three other teams between them and 8th place, are not likely to make the playoffs this season. They are, though, trying to continue to play good, respectable hockey until the very last game, as Luke Schenn commented before the game. The Flyers' next game comes at home against the New Jersey Devils.