The Flyers' penalty-kill unit went 2 for 3 while the power play was 1 for 4. (USA Today Images)
Everyone knows how the Flyers tend to gum things up for themselves early in games by taking not one, but a series of penalties at the start.
It happened again Saturday during a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers in which Scott Hartnell had the distinction of earning back-to-back penalties in his first 37 seconds of ice time (see recap).
One was for boarding, the other for tripping coming out of the box after the first call.
Not only did the Flyers’ penalty kill units do the job, they generated momentum that resulted in two goals against goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
“It would have been a different story if they scored right away,” said Kimmo Timonen, who played in his first game since returning from the Sochi Olympics.
“Those two kills were good, and it always builds up confidence when you kill back-to-back penalties.”
The Flyers' special teams did yeoman work. The PK went 2 for 3 while the power play was 1 for 4.
“Our penalty kill has been great all year long for us,” said Wayne Simmonds, who scored the winning goal in the game.
“They go out there time after time and bail us out of situations. After that, we just wanted to get our legs going and started rolling four lines.”
The Flyers played a strong first period, leading 2-0, then the Rangers made a second-period push to tie the game before Simmonds made it 3-2 at 13:23.
Luke Schenn added an insurance goal late in the third period.
Yet it was the PK units that generated the momentum needed to get a jump on a Rangers’ club that had won 12 of the previous 15 games against the Flyers.
“That was huge,” said Vinny Lecavalier, who scored the game’s first goal coming off the kills. “Right after we kill those two off, you want to get that first goal. We got that. But that penalty kill at the beginning did a great job.”
Sean Couturier had the second goal just 1:06 after Lecavalier’s 13th goal to make it 2-0.
Maybe it wasn't the start the Flyers wanted, but certainly, it turned into a positive.
“Penalty kill and Mase [Steve Mason] made a couple of big saves on the kill, and that’s a big thing,” coach Craig Berube said.
The Flyers face the Capitals on Sunday afternoon in Washington and remain a point ahead of them in the Metropolitan Division. Washington won 4-2 over Boston on Saturday.
The third-place Flyers (68 points) are just a point behind the Rangers, who remain second in the standings while Washington is fourth (67).
Simmonds had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to four games (1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points). He has two goals and five assists for seven points over his last six games. He also led the Flyers with six hits -- mainly because Zac Rinaldo spent 12 minutes in the penalty box.
Brayden Schenn was 12 for 14 on faceoffs (86 percent), while Michael Raffl was a perfect 4 for 4. ... Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros led the Flyers with six shots. … Claude Giroux had an assist, but no shots in the game. He had five shots blocked, several by Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who led both teams with six blocked shots.