Kevin Hayes has special night to beat his former team Rangers



Kevin Hayes' fist pump was so emphatic, it was probably felt in New York.

In his first game against his old club since being traded by the Rangers during February, the 27-year-old center lifted the Flyers to an exciting 5-1 win Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.

The building had extra juice to it in a divisional game right before Christmas and Hayes made the night live up to the hype.

The Flyers (21-11-5) have won four straight and will enjoy the holidays. At the holiday break last season, they were 15-16-4 and tied for 25th in the NHL with 34 points.

This season, since Oct. 21, the Flyers are 19-8-4 with 42 points. Only two NHL teams have more points over that span — the Blues and Capitals.

The Rangers (17-15-4) have three more meetings with the Flyers — Feb. 28, March 1 and April 1.

• Hayes had some extra giddyap. There's no denying this game meant a little more to him.

The 6-foot-5 center has had nothing but positive things to say about his time with the Rangers. However, New York didn't want to go long term with Hayes and that probably means something to him.

Hayes scored the game-winning goal in the third period, then added another in the final minutes (see highlights). He has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) over the last 17 contests.


During the first period, Hayes was also a stud in helping the Flyers kill the Rangers' 5-on-3 power play and the crowd loved it.

This was a big one for him and head coach Alain Vigneault, who coached New York from 2013 to 2018.

“I’m sure it meant more to him than to me," Vigneault said of Hayes. "He’s been wound up about this game for a while."

• Travis Sanheim was big with two goals — one to tie the game in the second period with only two seconds left during the frame, the other to cushion the lead in the third.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel capped the night with his first career NHL goal.

• Carter Hart came into the matchup 10-1-2 with a 1.53 goals-against and .944 save percentage at home.

He was splendid again with 34 saves.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who faced the Flyers for the 60th time in his career, was not easy to break and stopped 25 shots.

He is 35-18-5 lifetime against the orange and black.

• Ivan Provorov did not partake in morning skate because he's battling the flu.

“He said, ‘There’s not a chance I’m not playing,’” Vigneault said.

Provorov has never missed a game in his NHL career and that streak continued as he played in his 283rd straight contest.

The 22-year-old defenseman committed a costly turnover in the second period, which led to a shorthanded goal and 1-0 lead for the Rangers.

A sick Provorov is better than no Provorov, though. He played 23:20.

• The Flyers' power play, which was 4 for 12 over the last three wins, went 1 for 6 and allowed New York's only goal.

The team's penalty kill was good, though, denying the Rangers four times.

After sporting the NHL's second-worst penalty kill percentage (78.4) over the past five seasons, the Flyers have a top-10 unit in 2019-20.

• A classy move by the Rangers in support of Oskar Lindblom (see story).

• Philly is excited about them Birds.

• After the NHL-mandated holiday break from Tuesday to Thursday, the Flyers practice Friday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before opening a six-game road trip Saturday when they play the Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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