Rick Nash put the Rangers ahead 2-0 just 2:42 into the first period, as Ray Emery and the Flyers dug themselves too deep an early hole in a 4-1 loss. (USA Today Images)
NEW YORK -- Too slow, two games in a row.
That pretty much sums up the dismantling of a lot of good things the Flyers had been working toward in a pair disturbing defeats to the Lightning and Rangers. After struggling one night earlier in Tampa Bay, the Flyers fell behind early and stayed there in a 4-1 loss at Madison Square Garden Sunday night (see Instant Replay).
“I don’t think [those games were] similar,” coach Craig Berube said. “They were way quicker than us in the first period. They had the puck more than us in the first period and we ended up getting down right away in the game.
“In the first period, we were slow. It could be because we played yesterday, but it doesn’t matter. We've got to be more ready. Be quicker than them.
“We knew they would come out and quick. They’ve been playing good. We didn’t play fast enough in the first period. We were slow on everything.”
While Tampa Bay was quicker in transition and capitalized on three odd-man rushes to seize control Saturday, the Rangers simply out-hustled the Flyers to every loose puck or open area of ice the first period on Sunday, carving out an insurmountable 3-0 lead in front of King Henrik Lundqvist.
“We lost this game in the first period, 3-0, and they outworked us,” said an angry Kimmo Timonen. “Simple as that. If you don’t work and play smart hockey against good teams, they will bury you.
“That’s what they did. Three-to-nothing in the first 10 minutes? To me, that’s the game right there.”
Penalties, 10 overall in the game, were a factor once again, leaving the Flyers with a depleted bench. The Flyers led the NHL coming into play with 708 PIM and picked up another 53 minutes against the Rangers.
“There were three [penalties] in the first period and three in the second and that’s way too many in the whole game,” Timonen said.
Berube has been upset with the amount penalties since he took over, preaching every night how that aspect of the Flyers' play has to change.
“We talk about it all the time, it’s gotta stop,” he said. “It’s been better, but it wasn’t tonight. Six [penalties]. They have a real good power play. We stressed it before the game, not taking penalties. Two 5-on-3s. We use certain guys killing penalties and they end playing too much.
The Rangers ambushed Ray Emery early, making it 2-0 before the game was three minutes old.
“If you get off to that start, you don’t give yourself much of a chance,” Emery said.
The Flyers got a power play four minutes later and had six very good chances on Lundqvist, who has owned them since March 2011.
Had the Flyers scored, it would have broken New York’s momentum. Instead, the Rangers got their third goal at 9:24 and it was over.
“Yeah, the last three games, I don’t know how many shots we had, close to 40, and the puck goes to the net, we got guys going to the net for rebounds, and it’s just not finding a way into the net right now,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said.
Jakub Voracek didn’t agree.
“That power play was [early] and we still had [time] left to score two goals,” he said. “We had those six shots, but Lundqvist was pretty good. He was really solid. We had our chances.”
The Rangers have won seven straight over the Flyers at the Garden, outscoring them, 28-8.
“We didn’t check well enough, same as last night,” Wayne Simmonds said. “Our defensive lapses cost us that game.”