Flyers come through with badly needed 4-1 win

Noah Cates

      NEW YORK – Just up the road from here at Madison Square Garden, there’s this ballpark you have probably heard of, Yankee Stadium.

      A catcher there by the name of Yogi Berra once quipped, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

      Well, perhaps some of the young Flyers might not know of the famous baseball philosopher but they certainly heeded his words on Thursday night, defeating the NHL’s No. 1 team, the New York Rangers, by a 4-1 score, to snap an eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak and keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

      The victory means the Flyers, with two games left on their schedule, are still breathing until at least until Saturday,  when the New Jersey Devils hit town.

      The Flyers broke the game with the Rangers open with a pair of goals in the second period, none bigger than a goal by Travis Konecny with 47 seconds left in the second period.

      Konecny wound up with the puck in the left circle and beat goaltender Jonathan Quick for his 32nd goal of the season, a new career high.

      Earlier in the period, Bobby Brink scored on what first appeared to be a goal by Ryan Poehling. Brink tried to hit Poehling as he cut in front of Quick but the puck hopped off a stick and into the net without Poehling ever touching it.

      Flyers goaltender Samuel Ersson looked much more composed than he did in Tuesday’s night nightmare 9-3 loss in Montreal during which he allowed five of the nine goals.

      Coach John Tortorella acknowledged his team’s workmanlike effort in a situation which required nothing but the very beat.

      “We just keep our patience and let the game come to us,” he remarked after the game. “If you try to force against New York, there are going to be turnovers and it’s such a powerful team, so that works against you. We took what they gave us.

      “We win and we get to fight another day.”

      The Flyers were here on March 26 when they fell behind by a few goals, then rallied to take the game to overtime before dropping a 6-5 decision. But it may have shown the Flyers they could skate with the Rangers.

      “We’re going to have to do the same thing Saturday (against the Devils),” Tortorella said. “We’re going to have to be ready to go and just see if we can extend this.”

      If there were any pre-game jitters, Konecny kept the players loose by cracking jokes.

      “He’s been huge when he’s playing like that,” said Noah Cates, who scored the Flyers’ fourth goal at 5:56 of the third to put the game out of reach. “Finishing checks, he brings everyone into the battle. He’s such a good leader when he’s playing like that.

      “He was cracking jokes and making me laugh at least. I think that’s when you’re playing your best hockey. People were counting us out. . .we’re back to where we’re comfortable. Playing one of the top teams in the league and everyone was doubting us. We stepped up and had a great effort.”

      The first period saw the Flyers play some of their best hockey of the past couple weeks.

      Only a five-on-three power play goal by the Rangers kept the Flyers from holding a lead at the first intermission.

      The Flyers jumped off to a 1-0 lead when Cam York broke down the slot and used a Konecny feed to send a shot past Quick at 4:21. It was York’s 10th goal of the season.

      That lead held up until the Flyers took a pair of inopportune penalties. First they were whistled for too many men at 16:23. Then defenseman Erik Johnson took a reckless charging penalty.

      The Rangers converted when Artemi Panarin connected from just inside the left hash marks at 18:19.

      Other than that, Ersson looked like a cool customer again, especially early in the game when he stood up to the Rangers’ pressure.

      “It’s been kind of a struggle here lately,” he said, mindful of that 9-3 disaster in Montreal on Tuesday. “Especially coming off a performance like that (against the Canadiens). You want to bounce back – we still believe we’re in this thing. We’re going to do everything we can to make a push here.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers scratched defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning along with forward Nick Deslauriers. . .Weird moment of the night: When Johnson left the penalty box at the end of his penalty in the first period, he was dragging a bunch of wires and what appeared to be a set of headphones. Fortunately, play was stopped to avoid an awkward situation.

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.