NEW YORK – And to think that only a week ago goaltender Anthony Stolarz was playing for the Phantoms, trying to get his legs back after a month-long injury absence.
Tuesday night, the 25-year-old Edison, N.J. native looked like he hadn’t missed a day of action.
Stolarz came up with his second NHL career shutout, kicking out all 38 New York Rangers shots in a 1-0 victory at Madison Square Garden, extending the Flyers’ winning streak to a season-high five games.
Oskar Lindblom’s goal in the first period was all the offense Stolarz needed as the Flyers moved to within 10 points of a playoff spot, having gained four points in just a little over 24 hours.
Stolarz looked particularly sharp in the second period, robbing New York’s Chris Kreider on several occasions.
Time and again, Stolarz used his six-foot-six frame to frustrate Rangers’ shooters.
Without a doubt, Stolarz showed he’s back to one hundred percent.
“If I wasn’t ready, I wouldn’t be back,’’ he said. “I’m not going to put this team in jeopardy. Obviously, points are at a premium right now. We’re going to have to play every night like it’s a playoff game if we want to get back into this one.’’
Almost to a man, the Flyers say they play with extra confidence when a Stolarz or a Carter Hart gives a performance like Stolarz did on Tuesday night.
“I just look down the ice and try to outplay the other goalie,’’ Stolarz said. “If you do that, most nights you’re going to win or at least get a point.’’
Madison Square Garden is only about an hour’s drive from Edison, so this shutout was special. Some of his friends are Ranger fans but that’s the way it goes.
“Some of my friends, family come up for the game,’’ he said. “So it is pretty special to me.’’
Does he draw inspiration from his goaltending teammate, Hart?
“I think I kind of want to match his play, his intensity,’’ Stolarz said. “It’s nice watching him, he’s so poised, so calm in net. . .I’m just trying to take things from him.’’
Coach Scott Gordon knew Stolarz made the difference in this game. He bailed the team out on more than one occasion.
“They’re not all Picassos,’’ Gordon said with a grin.
Ivan Provorov said the players can draw from knowing the goaltending supports what they are doing out there.
“I thought he played great,’’ the defenseman said. “He made a few unbelievable saves. We were trying to make it as easy on him as possible. He left no second chances on any shots. It makes our job a lot easier.’’
Added Lindblom: “Stolarz was a monster back there.’’
Gordon indicated he saw this one coming, going all the way back to Allentown.
“He’s such an athletic goaltender,’’ Gordon said. “He’s so big, he’s a workhorse. There were games where we played three (games) in three (nights) and his third game would be his best.
“There were nights when teams were waiting for us and he would steal games. He certainly did it tonight.’’
Philadelphia is now 3-0 vs. the Rangers, including two shutouts, this season. The Flyers have moved to within two games of .500 (21-23-6).
After going scoreless in 30 games, Lindblom has come to life with two goals in his last four games.
His goal at 1:40 of the first period gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
The tally was the result of some hard work around the net by Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. With goalie Alexandar Georgiev down on the ice, Lindblom lifted a backhander high into the net.
“Everyone. . .me, ‘Coots’ and Jake were trying to find a rebound,’’ Lindblom said. “The puck got to me. It was laying there and I had an open net. It was an important goal to get early.’’
The Flyers have scored the first goal of the game in two straight contests, just the 19th and 20th times in 50 games.
“We’re playing pretty confident right now,’’ Lindblom said. “We’re on a roll, we just feel good and we’re having a lot of fun out there.’’
The line of Lindblom, Couturier and Voracek is clicking at the moment.
“Those guys are heavy on the puck and they can hold the puck for a long time,’’ Lindblom said. “We’re connecting right now and we have to keep going. We can’t relax.’’
This was the 296th alltime meeting between the Flyers and Rangers and only three of them have ended in a 1-0 score. The Flyers have won all three of them. . .Shayne Gostisbehere sat out his second straight game with a bone bruise in his foot. . .The Flyers are off from practice on Wednesday before visiting Boston on Thursday night.
Reply Reply All Forward