Michael Leighton takes a drink while waiting for play to resume during the Philadelphia Flyers' win over the New York Rangers.
Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers won their fourth straight game, crushing the New York Rangers 6-0. In what was arguably the most convincing win of the four, Simon Gagne scored the last three for the boys in orange, earning himself a natural hat trick.
Setting the tone early was crucial tonight for the Flyers. In their last matchup against the Rangers, New York scored five minutes into the game, forcing Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette to call a timeout and turn his team around.
The Flyers accomplished this, with Blair Betts scoring less than a minute into the first period. After a turnover, Ian Laperriere brought the puck in and put it on net quickly, allowing Betts to capitalize on the rebound.
Halfway through the first, Danny Briere scored on a wrist shot similar to some of his shootout moves after hard work by Mike Richards and Jeff Carter set him up.
Claude Giroux netted a rebound through a screen by Richards to tally the third goal of the game.
After the first stanza, Rangers Coach John Tortorella benched netminder Henrik Lundqvist for rookie Chad Johnson. It would be an NHL debut to remember.
Gagne began his natural hat trick just 23 seconds into the second period. After an offensive zone turnover, Johnson let in Gagne's wrist shot on his first shot faced in an NHL game.
But the scoring didn't stop there. Gagne was sure to give Johnson a warm welcome.
His next goal came on a 5 on 3 power play opportunity. Gagne tipped the puck in with just over five minutes left in the second. The Flyers worked with considerable patience as the seconds wound down to get the puck past Johnson.
Gagne secured his hat trick halfway through the third period, after perfect passes from Giroux and Richards. This is his second hat trick against the Rangers.
Laviolette is obviously pleased with the Flyers streak, and hopes that it will continue.
"I don't know if you ever see one coming. You hope to win every game, but that's unrealistic. You want to make sure you're playing well and doing the things you need to do in order to win hockey games, and I feel like we're starting to take steps toward doing that."
The Flyers' next matchup is the much anticipated Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins on January 1st.
- Five Flyers have been named to Olympic teams: Richards and Chris Pronger (Canada), Oskars Bartulis (Latvia), Kimmo Timmonen (Finland), and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Norway). Pronger was also given the title of alternative captain. The following former Flyers will join them: Patrick Thoresen (Norway), Joni Pitkanen, Antero Niittymaki, and Lasse Kukkonen (Finland). Carter is an alternate for Team Canada.
- My favorite quote of the night from the Flyers announcers: "It looks like the Rangers are standing still."
- Rebounds were the key to tonight's game, on both ends of the ice. Throughout the game, the Flyers kept pressure on both Lundqvist and Johnson in front of the net. They took advantage of several rebounds and converted them into goals. On the other end, the Flyers cleared rebounds from Michael Leighton, giving the Rangers many less scoring chances. In his end of the game interview, Leighton acknowledged the absence of rebounds, which obviously made his job easier tonight.
- There were several odd man rushes for the Rangers, but they were all thwarted. At one point, Leighton was kept out of the net for an extended period of time after Scott Hartnell crashed into him. Braydon Coburn manned the net and the Rangers failed to score.
- The Rangers didn't reach double digits in shots until the last few minutes of the second period. The final shots total was 31-22 in favor of the Flyers.
- When the last minute of play was announced in the second period, fans at Madison Square Garden cheered.
- While the Flyers may not have been there for the full sixty, they showed up for significant parts of all three periods, and never stopped attacking the net.
- Leighton earned his 4th career shutout tonight, and his first of the season. He also debuted his new mask tonight, which features the Philly skyline.
- In his end of the game interview, Gagne mentioned that one of the reasons that the Flyers have been winning as of late is because the team is making smart plays and isn't nervous when they get the puck.
- Hartnell got called for a penalty in the first after a collision and exchange with Sean Avery, but the penalties were offsetting as they were both called for fighting.
- Richards was a plus four on the night. He has recorded four goals in the last three games.