On Saturday night after a late meltdown against Toronto, Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo talked about the need for his team to compete for a full 60 minutes.
Apparently his players weren’t listening.
With less than five minutes to play and leading 3-1 against the New York Rangers on Sunday night, the Flyers surrendered a pair of goals just 12 seconds apart to tie the game at 3-3.
But the Flyers somehow persevered, got a lone shootout goal from Kevin Hayes and went on to a 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden.
It was the Flyers’ first shootout win of the season (1-4).
Much of the credit for the win went to goaltender Martin Jones, who kept the Blueshirts off the scoreboard through the first 40 minutes.
Hayes indicated it was important for the Flyers not to lose their composure after giving up those two goals and send the two teams to a tiebreaker.
“It could have been easy to shut down,’’ Hayes said, “and say here we go again. It’s happened a couple times this year. But we didn’t. We battled until the end. I thought we played great aside from that four minutes in the third.’’
Yeo chose to emphasize the positives, even though it looked like the Flyers might give away another game after a hard effort.
“Obviously we had a moment when things got away from us,’’ he said. “We didn’t break. We won the game. Bottom line, that’s what it is about. I think that’s a good win for us. It’s good for us to play in those games, play with confidence both with and without the puck.’’
A goal by Joel Farabee just 44 seconds into the third period gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead but the Rangers scored at 1:22 to make it a two-goal game again. The Rangers closed to 3-2 on a goal by Mika Zibanejad with 4:32 to play. Then, in the blink of an eye, Andrew Copp connected to tie the game at 3-3.
Farabee finished off a feed from Travis Sanheim, who was sent in on a lead pass from Oskar Lindblom. Then Artemi Panarin countered for the Rangers to make things interesting again.
Owen Tippett’s first goal as a Flyer highlighted Philadelphia’s successful first period, resulting in a 2-0 lead.
Tippett, acquired in the March 19 Claude Giroux trade with the Florida Panthers, was in the right place at the right time to take a lead pass from Kevin Hayes and bury a shot past Igor Shesterkin as he fell to the ice at 6:44.
It was a busy evening for Tippett, who had two other breakaway tries turned aside by Shesterkin.
“It feels good when you have chances in the game before and one finally goes in,’’ said Tippett in a first intermission interview. As for the Hayes-Tippett-James van Riemsdyk line, there were a lot of positive plays. “I thought we saw the ice well and we supported ourselves all over the ice. The chemistry will come in time.’’
Added Hayes: “He’s been playing great. I didn’t know much about him when he played for Florida. He’s a big, strong kid who skates hard, can shoot the puck. Had two or three breakaways today, which shows what kind of player he is. . .finds the open areas, creates good scoring chances, fun to play with. A big surprise, honestly.’’
Yeo said: “I don’t know if it was his best game for us but it had to be up there. The quality scoring chances he had, the big goal for us. I liked his play away from the puck. Him playing with Hayes, I think that was one of Hayes’ better games all year – just all over the ice.’’
The Flyers jumped on top early thanks to a goal by rookie defenseman Cam York at 4:54. Nate Thompson cleanly won a left circle draw and set up York for a blast from the point.
York has been playing on the No. 1 pairing with Ivan Provorov and those two seem to be clicking of late.
“He’s easy to play with,’’ York said. “I’m not used to playing the right side that much but he makes it easy on me. We try to defend as quickly as we can.’’
Keeping the Rangers quiet was key for the first two periods.
“We’re just trying to keep it simple, not over-complicate things,’’ York said. “When we do that, their offense isn’t as deadly.’’
Philadelphia kept the Rangers at bay in the second period, thanks to an unexpected contribution from the Flyers’ penalty kill unit. The Flyers, ranked last in the NHL, held the second-ranked Rangers to just three harmless shots on each of two power plays.
Yeo also praised Jones’ effort.
“I thought he was outstanding,’’ the coach said. “We had a couple mistakes that turned into goals. He was playing with poise, with confidence. When there was a breakdown, he was big in the net.’’
Jones certainly looked sure of himself in the shootout, denying the Rangers’ big shooters, including Panarin.
“I thought we did a good job taking away second chances,’’ said Jones of regulation time play. “We were getting pucks out of the zone and getting pucks in. I thought we competed hard all night. We battled hard and come out with the win.
Keith Yandle, whose 989-game ironman streak came to an end on Saturday, was scratched for a second straight game. With Nick Seeler out due to a lower-body injury suffered in Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kevin Connauton returned to action. . .The Flyers are back in action on Tuesday when they begin a home-and-home set against the Columbus Blue Jackets. . .Travis Konecny, normally a right wing, made a rare start on the left side. . .Ex-Flyer Justin Braun, traded to the Rangers at the March 21 deadline, saw his first action against his old team.