NEW YORK – No one had to call Hollywood to script a dramatic ending, although Sunday’s game sure looked that way for Alex Lyon.
Having struggled in three of his first NHL appearances, the Flyers rookie goaltender made No. 4 a charm.
Called in at the start of the second period (with Michal Neuvirth leaving due to a lower-body injury) and the score tied, 3-3, all Lyon had to do was square off against Flyer-killer Henrik Lundqvist at Madison Square Garden on national television.
Does the stage get any bigger than that?
And who could have predicted how this would turn out – with Lyon allowing only one goal to the New York Rangers the rest of the way and the Flyers putting four more past Lundqvist for a 7-4 win.
Unlike those previous appearances, Lyon looked calm and composed. He did give up one goal to rookie Peter Holland at 5:47 of the second but went on to finish up stopping 25 of 26 shots.
After the game, wearing the “Nature Boy’’ robe for team star of the game and swarmed by media, Lyon took it all in.
General manager Ron Hextall walked by and, without a word, tapped him on the shoulder. That was his way of saying “good job.’’
Starting goaltender Brian Elliott is out at least another month due to core muscle surgery and who knows how long the oft-injured Neuvirth will be gone.
So maybe Lyon will have to carry the load for a while, barring some activity by Hextall at next week’s NHL trade deadline.
In the meantime, Lyon will continue to take it day by day.
“It (first win) has kind of been a long time coming,’’ Lyon said after the game. “Realistically, it hasn’t been that long since I played those games (a full-game effort against New Jersey and partial game appearances against Washington and Ottawa a couple weeks ago).
“But in your mind, it feels longer than it actually is. I’m just happy. . .more relieved than anything.’’
Lyon confirmed he was more business-like for this performance. He didn’t have a lot of time to think about it during the first intermission.
“The worse thing you can do is hope that he (Neuvirth) is good enough to play,’’ Lyon said. “I just tried to turn my mind toward ‘you’re in, you’re going, you just have a job to do’ and it’s just a matter of taking care of business.’’
Lyon’s teammates were impressed with the way he battled, including timely stops on J.T. Miller and several other Rangers.
“He came in there and made some really big saves,’’ Andrew MacDonald said. “I thought he did an awesome job, can’t say enough about his effort. It’s not an easy situation to be in but he came in and did the job.’’
Added Scott Laughton: “It’s huge for him. It helps the confidence to come in and make a couple big saves early. He really kept us in the game and bailed us out on a couple plays. If he doesn’t do that, it’s a different game.’’
Defenseman Scott Gostisbehere appreciated the way Lyon kept his focus in such a wide-open game.
“He stepped in and played a hell of a game,’’ Gostisbehere said. “It’s probably tough coming in cold like that.’’
Looking ahead, Lyon is taking a conservative approach, No. 1 or not.
“That (No. 1) can be the case,’’ he said. “Or maybe they trade for two guys and I’m down in Allentown tomorrow. In professional hockey, you just don’t know. And so I’m going to take confidence from that, take it one day at a time and that’s the best approach.’’
And if it turns out he is the No. 1 goaltender for a while?
“I can’t even think about that,’’ he said. “You just have to think about one shot at a time in practice. This whole year has been up and down, topsy-turvy. So, I’ve learned my lesson too many times not to get too far ahead of myself.’’
Shayne the barbarian
Gostisbehere got into his first NHL fight just 15 seconds into the game when New York’s Pavel Buchnevich took a run at Travis Konecny. It was the first fight of Gostisbehere’s career and cause for a few smirky smiles in the post-game locker room.
“I heard a loud noise, saw him (Konecny) lying on the ground and thought he got smoked,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Dropped the gloves. Never done that before. The boys were happy I did it.’’
It was a wild first period, with Wayne Simmonds taking on Tony DeAngelo and Dale Weise challenging Cody McLeod.
Claude Giroux had a three-point game, including his 200th NHL goal. The three points give him 644 for his career, moving him past John LeClair into seventh place on the Flyers’ alltime scoring list. “LeClair was a great player,’’ Giroux said. “Anytime you pass a player like that, it’s good.’’. . .Travis Konecny’s goal and two assists gave him his first NHL three-point game. . .Hextall would not elaborate on Neuvirth’s condition. The goalie is expected to be re-evaluated on Monday. . .The Flyers’ 16 road wins are the most in the Metro Division. . .The Flyers’ previous high for goals scored against Lundqvist was six. . .Brandon Manning scored his fifth goal, a career high. . .Jori Lehtera’s goal in the third period was his first as a Flyer. . .Rookie Nolan Patrick was 12-4 on faceoffs. . .Flyers did not allow a power play for the second consecutive game, the first time that has happened for Philadelphia since the NHL began tracking power plays on boxscores in 1977. . .It’s the first time the Flyers have scored seven goals at Madison Square Garden since Dec. 16, 1981.