NEW YORK – All those good things the Flyers executed in a four-game win streak disappeared in a New York minute Tuesday night.
Tight team defense? Missing. Solid goaltending? Absent. Special teams? A disaster.
The New York Rangers, who had not won a game in regulation time since Dec. 19, made the Flyers pay for just about every breakdown.
It ended in a lopsided 5-1 Flyers’ loss at Madison Square Garden – quite similar to a 5-1 bombing by Pittsburgh back on Jan. 2 at the Wells Fargo Center. . .another game Philadelphia didn’t show up for.
The galling part for the Flyers: They had a chance to jump over the Rangers in the standings and make up some more ground in the airtight Metro Division race.
Instead, they played helter-skelter hockey after taking a brief 1-0 lead in the first period.
The Rangers scored their first shorthanded goal of the season and could have had more. Rick Nash registered a pair of goals, old nemesis Henrik Lundqvist had little work to do and the Flyers just didn’t seem all that interested.
Starting Flyers goalie Brian Elliott went to the bench after two periods as Michal Neuvirth mopped up.
Losing at the Garden is nothing new for the Flyers. Since March 6, 2011, the Flyers are just 2-13-0 in this building.
“I just thought in the first half of the game, all the areas of the game that mattered, they (the Rangers) were the quicker, hungrier team,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said.
Jordan Weal scored on the tip of a Radko Gudas shot only 2:06 into the contest and that was just about it for the Flyers.
Nash tied it on a breakaway when he got behind defenseman Brandon Manning at 6:30.
Then, just after a Lundqvist save on a shorthanded attempt by Claude Giroux, New York’s J.T. Miller scored on a power play at 16:50 when he tipped home a Ryan McDonagh shot for a 2-1 lead. Paul Carey raced past Manning to score New York’s shorthanded goal with 10 seconds left in the first period.
The Giroux-Miller sequence might very well have been the turning point of the game.
“When you give them opportunities, whether it’s a turnover out of their defensive zone, or a turnover entering their zone, our awareness on those plays was not what it needs to be,’’ Hakstol said.
The players were more than willing to accept their share of the blame.
A Jake Voracek turnover led to Michael Grabner’s breakaway goal at 10:48 of the second for a 4-1 lead which pretty much decided the game.
“We just made too many mistakes that cost us,’’ Voracek said. “Four goals out of five came after mistakes. It’s tough. It wasn’t our best game.’’
Elliott hasn’t had too many of these games.
“I have to go back to work and feel good about my game,’’ said Elliott, who has started 18 of the last 19 games. “That’s not where I wanted to be tonight. I really give our team a chance to win. I have to own a lot of that.’’
Manning had a rough game but some of that had to be chalked up to the Rangers’ speed.
“We talked before the game, we knew they were going to try to stretch us out,’’ Manning said. “When you’re on the power play and you give up a shorthanded goal, with that much time left (10 seconds) in the period, it makes it that much harder as well.
“They have some guys who can skate. I think we were expecting that but we haven’t played them this year, so when you see it for the first time, it’s something a little different.’’
Wayne Simmonds has been around for almost all of that 15-game rough patch at MSG. He knows the Flyers have to be at their best to win here. . .and they weren’t.
“We weren’t competitive enough, consistently,’’ Simmonds said. “So I think that’s what stung us. Obviously we have to do a better job when we come into this building.’’
Giroux played in his 700th NHL game. He needs 15 points to pass John LeClair for seventh place on the Flyers’ alltime points list. . .Rookie Tyrell Goulbourne, who had started three straight games, was scratched in favor of Taylor Leier.
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