PHILADELPHIA – Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
Well, the Flyers certainly got knocked down last Saturday night in New Jersey when they suffered the worst loss (7-0) to the Devils in franchise history.
Many wondered how the Flyers would respond to such a shellacking when the powerhouse New York Rangers came to town on Wednesday night for a nationally televised game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Surprise, surprise. The Flyers showed some backbone and somehow found a way to earn a point in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored off the rush at 2:32 of the tiebreaker for the winning goal.
Several players as well as coach John Tortorella acknowledged there was a big pride factor to this game.
The Flyers had been rocked at the “The Rock” in the weekend embarrassment in Newark and wanted to make amends.
So even though they coughed up a lead after the second intermission (now 16-2-1 when ahead), they played with purpose and a chance at redemption.
“I thought we really responded the right way,” goalie Carter Hart said. “After the game in Jersey (it was) one of the worst of the year. I thought we really responded. We just battled back the whole game and just grinded it.”
Scott Laughton, who scored his 14th goal of the season in the second period for a new career high, felt the same way about the recovery from the Jersey debacle.
“We got embarrassed,” Laughton said. “I thought we forechecked way better tonight. It was a way better game from our group. Other than a couple games in the last couple weeks, I think we’ve played hard every night. Played for each other, guys stick up for each other. That’s what we’re trying to build in here.”
A goal by New York’s Chris Kreider at 10:33 of the third period tied the score at 2-2. Kreider tipped in a long shot by Tarasenko for the equalizer.
Laughton’s goal at 11:16 of the second period provided the Flyers with a 2-1 lead.
Kevin Hayes began the sequence with a pass from the half-wall. Laughton took control behind the end line, skated directly at goalie Igor Shesterkin and fired a shot under the crossbar.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead at 2:51 of the first period on a power-play goal by Mika Zibanejad. Hart had no chance on the point-blank shot.
Philadelphia responded with a power-play goal of its own at 15:05. Shesterkin attempted a clear shot from his right post but the puck deflected off Elliot Desnoyers’ stick. From there, a turnover led to a close-range shot by Owen Tippett, his 18th goal of the season.
No doubt the Flyers were frustrated by the outcome but they took solace from how they responded after the nasty outcome in the previous game.
Tortorella was appreciative of the way his team showed some spunk.
“It’s about teammates telling each other how we’re going to go about this,” he said. “Not through words but through action. They played hard. I just want to see them get rewarded.”
>Van Riemsdyk’s last game as a Flyer?
With his contract expiring this year, there’s a good chance James van Riemsdyk was playing his last game as a Flyer. His career with the team began way back in 2009, with a six-year interlude in Toronto. The NHL trade deadline is Friday.
Any special emotion to this one? Well, his family (including his parents) made the trip from Middletown, N.J. to watch the potential curtain-closer.
“Obviously it’s been a little stressful the last few days,” JVR said. “The uncertainty around it so you just try to prepare yourself the best you can. You just try to play your game and go from there.”
Van Riemsdyk’s young daughter, Scarlett, was able to stand near the glass and watch her father play, which provided some special moments.
“Obviously being so close to home and being able to share this experience will be a special thing looking back on that,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “I’m trying to stay in the moment.”
>Desnoyers gets involved
Although the Tippett goal was officially listed as unassisted, Desnoyers did have a hand (or stick) in the play.
Desnoyers, who was just named AHL rookie of the month for February, said it’s helpful to be getting a chance to play for the Flyers.
“I think it’s a good thing to be here by the end of the season,” he said. “ Full confidence. [I’m] just trying to skate. Throw my body into guys and create some space for my teammates.”
The Flyers do not play again until Sunday afternoon’s home game against the Detroit Red Wings. They will practice at Voorhees on Thursday and Saturday and be off on Friday, which is the NHL trade deadline (3 p.m.). . .Due to salary cap considerations, the Rangers dressed only 16 position players, including just five defensemen and 11 forwards. . .Laughton played in his 499th NHL game.