PHILADELPHIA – For a moment it looked like the Flyers just might earn their first win of 2022.
But the New York Rangers put a quick end to that notion by rallying for a pair of goals in the back half of the third period Saturday night, sending the Flyers to a 3-2 loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
The defeat extended the Flyers’ winless streak to seven games (0-5-2).
Chris Kreider’s tip-in goal with 6:30 to play made the difference.
Flyers rookie defenseman Cam York’s first National Hockey League goal at 10:11 of the third period gave the Flyers a brief 2-1 lead. York’s point shot eluded goaltender Igor Shesterkin. It was unassisted.
But the advantage lasted only 37 seconds. Filip Chytil answered for the Rangers with a shot past goalie Carter Hart and the game was tied once again.
A goal by Oskar Lindblom at 11:45 of the first period pulled the Flyers even at 1-1. Lindblom rushed the net and was able to finish off a Travis Konecny entry. The Swede sent a short shot past Shesterkin.
New York jumped off to an early lead on a power play. Mike Zibanejad set up shop in the left circle and was ready when the puck came his way. He blasted a high shot past Hart.
The Flyers got off to their usual slow start and didn’t get a shot on net for the first 11 minutes of the game.
Interim head coach Mike Yeo said his players may have been “nervous’’ at the beginning of the action.
“For the most part, I think we looked like a team that might have been a little bit nervous,’’ Yeo said during a post-game media Zoom call. “I think we had the right mindset the first shift, then the next thing you know it’s coming back at us and we were on our heels a little bit. Once we found the mindset of getting in on the attack, it only took one or two shifts to start generating some momentum.’’
Asked why the Flyers couldn’t protect the lead after York’s goal and then completely fell apart on the Kreider goal, Yeo indicated the pressure of the seven-game winless streak might have been a factor.
“We know we need a win,’’ he said. “You start playing only to win, thinking about holding that result and you forget about the one little thing you have to do at that moment. It’s not easy when you’re dealing with the stress and the emotion of going through a losing streak like this. You have to make sure you continue to focus on the process.’’
The teams exchanged scoring chances in a scoreless second period. The key play of that middle frame came when defenseman Keith Yandle rushed in and cleared a puck stuck on the goal line after Hart got a piece of a Chytil shot.
Before the game, Yeo predicted a tough game against the Rangers.
“They work to make sure they protect the middle of the ice,” Yeo said. “You really have to fight and work to get your opportunities. They don’t give you a lot of odd-man rushes. They don’t give you any easy plays. Everything has to be earned.”
After the game, Hart confirmed he was bumped by a teammate and lost his stick on the Kreider goal. That’s what made the attempted stop even tougher.
“Tough break,’’ Hart said. “We came out hard in the third period and just didn’t get rewarded.’’
>York performance a bright spot
York continues to impress with his steady play. In addition to his goal, he turned in another strong performance as point man on the first power-play unit. Yeo also had him out a lot in the last two minutes when Hart was pulled for a sixth attacker in an attempt to score a tying goal.
“I thought he played a real strong game,’’ Yeo said. “He continues to impress. These are good teams he’s playing against. . .real tough matchups. You look at how he’s playing defensively and offensively with confidence as well.’’
York certainly looks comfortable, considering he was playing in the AHL a couple weeks ago.
“It felt really good just to get that out of the way,’’ York said of his goal. I feel like I’m doing the right things. The guys around me have been great and making me feel comfortable.’’
>Giroux gets milestone award
Claude Giroux recorded his 600th career assist back on Dec. 29th in a game at Seattle and on Saturday he was presented with a crystal milestone award by the NHL. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher did the honors.
The Flyers fell to 2-15-2 when an opponent scores first. . .The Flyers return to action Monday with the first of a back-to-back set against the New York Islanders. It will be the Flyers’ first visit to New York’s new USB Arena in Queens. . .York was voted second star of the game.