Berube: 'Our guys have good character'
Steve Mason makes a save on Rangers forward Brian Boyle during the Flyers' 4-2 win on Saturday. (AP)
The start was very strong, the middle was poor and the finish was very good for the Flyers on Saturday afternoon against the Rangers.
In one of the biggest games of the this stretch run against a hated Metropolitan Division rival directly ahead of them in the standings, the Flyers came up tall with a 4-2 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
Steve Mason outplayed Henrik Lundqvist in net, and Wayne Simmonds played an outstanding game and broke a 2-2 tie in the second period, one in which the Flyers played terribly.
The Flyers came out of the first period with a 2-0 lead, then went into full retreat as the Rangers, much like San Jose on Thursday night, took their game to another level.
As a result, the Flyers were back-peddling the entire time and the Rangers tied the game.
Truth is, the Flyers were very tentative and unsure of themselves with the puck in their own end that entire period and the Rangers sensed it, mounting the pressure.
That ended in the third period when the Flyers started skating with some authority and handled the puck better.
Luke Schenn, whose last goal was 23 games ago, had a clutch insurance marker late in the game to make it 4-2.
Coming into the game, Lundqvist was 5-0 in his last five games with a 1.77 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
He was 1-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .974 save percentage in his only start against the Flyers this season. Cam Talbot (0-1-0) had the other start.
Coming in, the Rangers had owned the Flyers, having won 12 of the previous 15 games dating back to a 7-0 rout of the Flyers on March 6, 2011. They had outscored the Flyers, 53-27, over that span as well.
The Rangers had allowed two goals or less to the Flyers in 13 of their previous 15 meetings before Saturday.
Best of saves
Mason had a snap glove stab at Anton Stralman’s blistering shot from the right circle in the second period. He had several more, including a tough one on Derek Stepan in the third period.
Steve Downie had a gimme in the paint during a third period power play and couldn’t get a clean shot. Rangers forward Chris Kreider blew an open net on a backhander in the middle period.
The Flyers did something in this game they have not done since the Rangers began their dominance over them three years ago. They scored two goals on their first four shots against Lundqvist for a 2-0 lead to begin the game.
In his first 37 seconds of ice time, Scott Hartnell had two penalties. That is nearly impossible to do.
He began the game with a questionable boarding call to Ryan McDonagh at 1:57, served his time, then got out of the box and tripped up Rangers irascible forward Daniel Carcillo.
It was a complete “Hartnelldown” period when he missed an easy rebound at the net on a late power play, too.
The Flyers were 1 for 4; the Rangers were 1 for 3.
The Flyers' PK units actually created early momentum for a 2-0 lead.
First, Simmonds occupied Carcillo, Vinny Lecavalier shot one to the net that Brayden Schenn appeared to knock in a 7:04. Actually, Lecavalier shot went off Stralman’s stick into the net.
Then Matt Read gave Sean Couturier a breakaway pass. The fleet-footed center deked Lundqvist down, cut right to left at the post, and went to shelf a minute after Schenn’s goal.
No goals but…
Simmonds' play with shots and off the puck were outstanding in the first period. Lundqvist had a clutch save on him during a late Flyers power play.
Benoit Pouliot’s apparent goal at 2:01 of the second period was overturned on review as his stick was clearly above the crossbar.
Two minutes after Pouliot’s denied goal, the Rangers struck for real on Kreider’s slingshot shot into the far post. The play was setup by a strange ricochet on Stepan off the boards to Rick Nash to Kreider in succession. That made it 2-1.
Simmonds' power-play goal at 13:22 of the second period snapped the 2-2 tie. It was his first goal in five games and 19th this season. He and Claude Giroux are tied for the goal lead on the club.
Flyers play 14 games this month. Ten are on home ice.
Carcillo and Zac Rinaldo jawed at each other in the second period with Rinaldo twice giving his opponent a glove to the face, earning each unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
They got out of the box and started to drop gloves but Carcillo held onto his stick. It was broken up and they each went back to the box with 10-minute misconducts.
Goalie Ray Emery (groin pull); defensemen Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson and forward Jay Rosehill were healthy scratches.
The Flyers play the Capitals in Washington tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 p.m. (NBC).
Emery won't be traveling with the team to D.C. Berube said he's not opposed to playing Mason three times in four days, but he also claimed he's not opposed to playing Cal Heeter, either.