NEW YORK — Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden turned into the off-Broadway performance of “Lyon King.”
While it may not qualify for a Tony award, the Flyers' 7-4 victory over the New York Rangers had plenty of entertainment value.
Rookie Alex Lyon replaced Michal Neuvirth to begin the second period and stopped 25 shots to earn his first-career NHL victory, beating Henrik Lundqvist at MSG. Neuvirth appeared to have sustained an injury on Mats Zuccarello’s goal late in the first period that tied the game at 3-3. The Flyers later announced Neuvirth did indeed suffer a lower-body injury and would not return to the contest. Enter Lyon, who performed brilliantly in the spotlight.
The seven goals are the most the Flyers have scored against the Rangers since Nov. 11, 1992. The seven goals are also a season-high for the Flyers and the most Lundqvist has allowed in 56 career games against the Orange and Black.
Claude Giroux scored his 200th career goal while his linemate Travis Konecny produced his first career three-point game with a goal and two assists.
The Flyers also received goals from defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning, Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton and Jori Lehtera.
Observations from the big win at MSG:
• Fifteen seconds into the game, Shayne Gostisbehere engaged in his first career fight when he took exception to Pavel Buchenevich’s check on Konecny that sent Konecny hard into the boards. Ghost held his own and was able to connect with a few right hands.
• Want proof that the Flyers' defense is out of whack when one of their key blueliners is not available? They were a complete mess with Gostisbehere in the box as they gave up a handful of high-quality scoring chances to the Rangers. Defenseman John Gilmour had a terrific look from the left circle, Michael Grabner had a point-blank look from the slot and Jimmy Vesey drove right around Ivan Provorov at one point. The Flyers were fortunate they weren’t down 2-0 early on after the Rangers opened the scoring.
• Just 75 seconds after Gostisbehere’s fight, the Rangers capitalized as Kevin Hayes pulled off a near impossible redirect off Ryan Sproul’s point shot. Not much blame to assign, just an unfortunate and near-impossible shot to defend. Perhaps Neuvirth could have initially played the puck better from behind his own net as opposed to just rimming the puck around the boards.
• Flyers scored a picture-perfect goal that was set up by a face-off win in the defensive zone when they took a 3-2 lead late in the first period. Giroux took off with the puck and the key to the goal was his drop pass to Konecny that pushed the Rangers’ defenseman back near the crease. That opened up a big lane for Brandon Manning, who beat Lundqvist blocker side for the goal. A textbook goal off the rush that gave them their first lead.
• In a wild first period that produced six goals and three fights, the Flyers did a fantastic job of beating Lundqvist on redirected shots. MacDonald received credit for the first goal as Lehtera whiffed on a deflection attempt, but Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo did the Flyers a favor by getting his stick on a shot that beat Lundqvist. The Flyers tied the game at 2-2 with Scott Laughton’s redirecting Provorov’s entry shot. This is a prime example of why the Rangers defensively appear lost without Ryan McDonough and Marc Staal, two of the better defenseman in the league.
• I have the Flyers winning the first period on the fight card, 10-9 the advantage. Dale Weise wasn’t as fortunate in his scuffle with Cody McLeod. A total of 32 penalty minutes were handed out in the first 20 minutes.
• Just as the Flyers’ power play expired, Peter Holland and Zuccarello caught the Flyers’ defense flat-footed and connected on a 2-on-1 rush. The Flyers had four forwards on the ice plus defenseman MacDonald, and MacDonald left his feet in an unsuccessful attempt to break up the pass. He should have forced Holland to shoot. To make matters worse, Neuvirth appeared to have injured himself on that play moving post to post. Judge for yourself…
This Rangers-Flyers game: 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/usVT9nY0Fv— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 18, 2018
• Lyon replaced Neuvirth to begin the second period and the rookie was tested right away as the Rangers converted another bad rebound goal. Radko Gudas and Manning certainly didn’t help out their goaltender as both guys were on their knees in front of Lyon, who made the first two saves, but couldn’t stop Holland’s attempt after falling face forward to the ice.
• In the first period, Neuvirth was in goal for a similar play when MacDonald rode his man up the boards, which left center Sean Couturier forced to play Rick Nash 1-on-1 in front of the crease. Nash was able to maintain inside position and simply curled the puck around Neuvirth’s skate. Through 40 minutes, the Flyers’ defense in front of their goaltender was somewhere between subpar and terrible.
• Lyon came up with some big saves in that second period - the biggest came when Lyon snared J.T. Miller’s snap shot out of the air with his glove. Lyon finished with 13 saves in the second period coming off the bench cold.
• Konecny continued his red-hot scoring pace with another multi-point game. After passing up a prime opportunity earlier in the second period, Konecny wasn’t about to let another one go by as he sniped a shot under the arm of Lundqvist, who clearly wasn’t having his best game as poor as the defense has played in front of him. Konecny’s tally wound up as the game-winner.
• Lyon was positioned perfectly again on Nick Holden’s wrist shot early in the third period. In his fourth career appearance, this is the best Lyon has looked as he didn’t try to do too much and was square to nearly every shot.