The Flyers on Monday night started what should be a telling 10-game stretch that finishes up the month of March.
The club closely evaluates 10-game segments and this one leads into April, when the trade deadline arrives on the 12th of the month.
The Flyers didn't have the cleanest 60 minutes at Madison Square Garden but they picked up a crucial 5-4 OT win over the Rangers. They badly needed any type of victory.
"We need to win," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said postgame. "Good first period, real good third period, not so good in the middle. We've got to find a way to play 60 minutes and we're going to get that opportunity next game against the Rangers on Wednesday."
Jakub Voracek was a beast all game Monday night and scored the overtime winner.
The Flyers (14-9-3) improved to 3-5-0 in March and are within a point of a playoff spot in the loaded East Division. They don't have a problem scoring goals. However, they've allowed three or more goals in all eight games this month, so the goal-prevention problems are still prevalent. Matt Niskanen has been missed.
The Rangers (11-12-4) were without leading scorer Pavel Buchnevich, top defenseman Adam Fox and winger Phillip Di Giuseppe, as all three were on the NHL's COVID protocol list.
• Vigneault rolled with the same six defensemen from last Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Capitals, as Nate Prosser stayed in the lineup and played alongside Shayne Gostisbehere.
"We felt that it was one of our better 5-on-5 games so far this year," Vigneault said before the game about last Saturday's performance. "In our way we track scoring chances, we only gave up seven in that game, so we felt the D group had done a pretty good job against one of the best teams in the NHL."
The second and third pairs fell flat at MSG. Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers had rough moments. So, too, did Prosser and Gostisbehere. A lot of it was lapses in coverage as New York made its push.
You'd have to think one of either Erik Gustafsson or Robert Hagg (maybe even both) will return to the lineup Wednesday.
• Carter Hart made his first start since being pulled six days ago and admitting he hadn't felt like himself.
His defense did diddly-squat to help him Monday night, particularly in a glaringly bad second period.
Artemi Panarin, Colin Blackwell and Julien Gauthier flipped the Flyers' 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit. And they did it quickly by dismantling the Flyers. Panarin's goal was a blast from the circle. On the second and third markers, New York got behind the Flyers' defense way too easily.
"Not quite sure what happened in the second period there," Vigneault said. "I don't want to take anything away from the Rangers' push. We knew they were going to have a push after the way we had played in the first. We weren't very good in that second period."
Hart battled and made 20 saves on 24 shots. He had a jaw-dropping one on Chris Kreider early in the third period when the game was tied and the Rangers had a 3-on-1.
Having Hart leave with a win was huge.
"We knew he was going to come around," Voracek said. "That save from the beginning of the third on our PK with his pad on Kreider, I think it was spectacular."
New York netminder Keith Kinkaid stopped 25 of the 30 shots he faced.
• The Flyers got goals from Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, Ivan Provorov, Joel Farabee and Claude Giroux.
Giroux and Voracek were impressive all night. After Kevin Rooney gave the Rangers a 4-3 third-period lead, Giroux tied the game at 4-4 with a power play goal off a filthy assist from Voracek.
"When they're on, it's so fun for me to watch," Farabee said. "G's goal was actually probably one of the crazier things I've seen. Jake literally said that whole play, 'We're going to win [the faceoff], it's going to go down to me, G pretend like you're going up the wall and then go backdoor.' I was watching from the point and I actually couldn't even believe it. It was one of the cooler things I've seen. They're so good, they're such good leaders."
Giroux (one goal, one assist) and Voracek (one goal, two assists) combined for five points and the power play continued to pick up, finishing 2 for 5.
Van Riemsdyk and Provorov gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at first intermission. The lead evaporated in the second period.
• The Flyers avoided a couple of injury scares in the first period with young forwards Nolan Patrick and Farabee.
Patrick went down awkwardly along the boards and Farabee blocked a shot. Both were able to stay in the game.
Farabee scored the team's game-tying power play goal in the second period after New York ambushed the Flyers and erased their 2-0 lead in just over a seven-minute span. The 21-year-old winger finished with a multi-point game (one goal, one assist) and has 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 25 games after scoring 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 52 games as a rookie last season.
Patrick played third-line center and did a good job of standing up for Giroux after the captain was rung by a hit. Patrick didn't have to drop the gloves as Voracek jumped into the scrum.
The 22-year-old finished scoreless and with a minus-2 mark.
• Michael Raffl (swollen right hand) returned to the lineup and centered the fourth line between wingers Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
"My hand is good enough to play," Raffl said before the game. "It was just how painful it is; the doctor said it can't get worse, so it was just coming down to managing the pain. I feel confident."
Raffl played 9:22 and committed a third-period penalty.
• For rest reasons, Brian Elliott did not suit up Monday night as Alex Lyon was the club's second netminder. Last Saturday night, Elliott appeared in his fifth game over 10 days. Vigneault said before the game that the 35-year-old veteran is healthy. Monday was the first of eight games in two weeks for the Flyers.
• The Flyers and Rangers are back it Wednesday in New York (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN).
Subscribe to and rate Flyers Talk