Hockey games are not scripted events but when Danny Briere was awarded a penalty shot, it gave the Winter Classic a perfect made-for-TV ending.
PHILADELPHIA — If you did not know any better, you would swear the moment was made for TV: Twenty seconds remained in a one-goal game Monday between two of the NHL’s most historically significant franchises when a penalty shot was awarded.
Philadelphia's Danny Briere charged toward Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, commencing the game inside the game.
Lundqvist stood his ground, forcing Briere to make the first move. Briere chose wrong.
His wrist shot was high and wide on Lundqvist. Twenty seconds later, the Rangers were celebrating their third straight win over their Northeast Corridor rivals.
The mano-a-mano was the decisive play in the New York Rangers' 3-2 comeback win over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Winter Classic on Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
The Rangers are 3-0 against the Flyers and 5-0 against Philadelphia dating back to their final two matches of last season.
“Maybe that's the only reason why he called it,” Lundqvist said with a smile when asked if he thought the penalty shot call was made to add to the drama surrounding the event. “You know, it would have been tough to swallow that one if they scored. But luckily he didn't, and I think there was a couple of calls in the end there where I was really surprised, I must say. But, again, we came up big in the end with the penalty kill and just the way we worked. And it's been our thing this year. You know, I don't think we are more skilled than anybody else, but we worked really hard and it's been paying off.”
Brad Richards scored the game-winning goal 5:21 into the third period. Mike Rupp added two goals and Lundqvist made 34 saves for the Rangers. The Rangers have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 24-9-4.
Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 33 shots. Philadelphia is second in the Atlantic Division – fourth in the East – with 48 points.
Philadelphia took a 2-0 lead by the 14:21 mark of the second period. Schenn redirected a Matt Carle point shot past Lundqvist 12:26 into the second to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The goal was Schenn’s first in the NHL.
"I think the biggest thing that's been working against Brayden Schenn since he's come to our organization is injury; not pressing, but injury alone," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's had three substantial injuries and lack of games and lack of ice time. Any time you get an injury and you're out for a period of time, your conditioning slips a little bit and your timing slips a little bit,” Peter Laviolette said of Schenn. “I think the best wish for Brayden for the new year is health because he's a talented person that can come in and do some good things for our organization.”
Giroux’s 18th increased the Flyers’ lead to 2-0 2:05 later with a 2-on-1 wrister that beat Lundqvist high.
Rupp started the comeback with a low shot that slithered under Bobrovsky’s glove 30 seconds after Giroux’s goal. The goal seemed to energize the Rangers.
“I thought we gathered ourselves and when we struggled during the middle part of the game simply gained zones and didn't turn it over and got into our forecheck,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “It's a positive with such a young team to have that maturity as far as just staying with it. That's what I thought we did tonight.”
Rupp fired a shot between Bobrovsky’s body and the right post evened that the game, 2-2, 2:41 into the third. Richards slammed a rebound of a Brandon Dubinsky rebound into a half-empty net 3:20 later that gave the Rangers the only lead they would need at 3-2.
“It was tough. I thought he played a strong game. Certainly he would probably like another crack at that one,” Laviolette said of Bobrovsky. “He seemed steady and confident in there, and you know, it did – I think it set us back for a little bit there. They got the third one to go ahead after that, on the back door rebound.
“You know, it was tough for our team in that five-minute stretch there, and then, you know, we seemed to get that going towards the end of the game but it was hard to get through with the ice the way it was and they were just dumping it behind us and playing defense in front of us. It was hard to get through the neutral zone and get back to generating the offense that we did in the first two periods.”
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