Anton Stralman directs the puck into his own net for the Flyers first goal in a 4-2 win over the Rangers on Saturday. Vincent Lecavalier (not pictured) was credited with the goal. (Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com)
When the Flyers returned from the Olympic break with a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, it was not the start fans were looking for. It also set up strong motivation for Saturday.
"We had a full week of practice to make sure we were ready for this, and I thought our effort was pretty crappy overall," Steve Mason said.
"I expect a big game against the Rangers. I really do," head coach Craig Berube said. "They're embarrassed. We're all embarrassed from it tonight."
The Flyers delivered on Berube's prediction on Saturday.
Give a lot of credit to an ulikely cast of goal scorers. Vincent Lecavalier and Sean Couturier scored in the first period. Lecavalier's last goal came on Jan. 30 against Anaheim. Couturier had not scored since the Flyers last meeting with Detroit on Jan. 28.
Wayne Simmonds extended his point streak to four games with his first goal since Feb. 1. Finally, Luke Schenn scored to ice the game late in the third with his first goal since Dec. 23.
The four Flyers snapping goalless droughts were not the only players making a push for a goal. Matt Read hit the post with a scoring chance. Brayden Schenn was originally credited with the first goal. Replay showed he never touched the puck as Anton Stralman. Even Steve Downie found himself in the crease with a chance at a goal as well.
''I think our guys have good character,'' Berube said. ''I was pretty confident we'd come out and play hard. They're a fast, hard-working team, and if you want to compete with them you need to play a fast, hard game.''
The Flyers may have taken most of the second period off. They allowed the Rangers to get back into the game. But as some Flyers continued to find their legs after the lengthy break, others made a mark for the first time in a long time.
This day was about Couturier and Lecavalier and Simmonds, players that have been contributing throughout the season in bursts.
This day was also about the Flyers goalie responding with a strong performance against a rival team. Steve Mason answered the call with 33 saves in a dominant performance.
“It feels good, but I wasn’t going out there Steve Mason versus Lundqvist,” Mason said. “I wanted to help the Flyers beat the Rangers, which is what we did. He’s a great goaltender, and if I can come out on top against him more often than not, that’s a pat on the back, I guess.”
The Flyers have been a team of coming back. This isn't just in third periods. The Flyers have rebounded in the past from games like the one on Thursday night. It is the constant resiliance of players and the goaltender who has been pulled so often that make this team strong as playoff time looms.
“We’re a resilient bunch, but we should never give up that many goals to begin with,” Simmonds said. “We talked about things after that. We started from scratch and do simple things right, and it results in wins.”
This is only the beginning on what could be a trying month for the Flyers. They will be tested by many other contending teams in the month and the key will be playing solid hockey for 60 minutes night in and night out. If they are to be contenders themselves, the Flyers will have to outwork teams and get good performances. Games like the one on Saturday afternoon are a good way to start.
Kevin Durso is the lead beat writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.