If it were up to the New York Rangers, they would probably prefer to play the second half of their schedule over the next 41 consecutive days, considering the success they’ve had in back-to-backs.
Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner had two goals each, while Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves, and the Rangers topped the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2, concluding the first half of their regular season schedule.
Coming off a lifeless performance against the Buffalo Sabres, the Rangers (27-13-1) again continued their prowess in the second half of back-to-backs, improving to 7-0-0 in such games. They also continued their avoidance of long losing streaks, moving to 12-1-1 after a loss this season.
After a scoreless first period, the Rangers got to work, silencing the crowd gathered at Wells Fargo Center by taking the lead early in the middle frame. Kevin Hayes managed to create a 2-on-1, and scored his 12th goal of the season for the early 1-0 lead. Lundqvist made some showstopping saves to keep the game at that score headed into the third, helping the Rangers kill off a penalty in the process.
Things got rather topsy-turvy in the final period, but the Rangers ensured they’d be on
the winning end of it thanks to two goals in the first half of the frame. First it was Chris Kreider, scoring his 16th goal of the season from the 22nd assist from each of his linemates Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello, before Grabner, who assisted on the first Hayes goal, scored his own 16th goal of the season, and first since December 20 to make it 3-0. Jakub Voracek scored two goals, one on a power play, to narrow the lead, but the Rangers sandwiched his goals with scores of their own, as Hayes and Grabner scored again, the latter on an empty netter to cap things off at the 5-2 final. It was the fifth straight win-free game for Philadelphia (20-15-5), who are 0-4-1 in that span. The Rangers are 4-1-0 in the same amount.
Lundqvist, victorious in both Philadelphia games, now has 70 combined saves on 74 shots against the Flyers this season.
Following this game, the Rangers will head to the midwest to take on the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets, winners of 16 straight, on Saturday night. (7:00, MSG2).