Well that was unexpected.
After three straight losses in which the Rangers looked slow and inept the Blueshirts finally took a stand; beating the Flyers 5-1.
In the Battle between the Empire City and City of Brotherly Love it was the Broad Street Bullies that drew first blood.
Jordan Weal redirected a shot from “NHL Bad Boy” Radko Gudas past the outstretched glove of Henrik Lundqvist; giving the Flyers the early 1-0 lead.
From there, the Empire struck back; neutralizing the invaders from Philadelphia.
4:24 after Weal opened the scoring, Pavel Buchnevich — who was reinstalled on the top-line with Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad — sprung a streaking through the middle Nash for a breakaway.
The often snake-bitten Nash changed his — and possibly his team’s — fortunes by burying the puck past Brian Elliott; tying the score.
At 1-1 this was still very much a game. But not for long.
10:20 after Nash’s goal, J.T. Miller redirected Ryan McDonagh’s blast from the point past Elliott for a power-play goal; giving the Blueshirts the 2-1 lead.
With time winding down in the first period, and the Rangers on the penalty-kill, the suddenly surging Blueshirts completed a nifty trick.
Having already scored goals at even-strength and on the power-play, there was one more type of goal to get; a short-handed one.
All season long the Rangers had come tantalizingly close to scoring while short-handed, but always coming up short.
With 10 seconds left in the period, newly recalled Peter Holland led Paul Carey up the ice on a two-on-one odd man rush. And Carey deposited the puck past Elliott; ending the Rangers’ streak of futility.
With a commanding 3-1 lead heading into the second period and Henrik Lundqvist displaying his usual goaltending excellence, there was little need for further scoring.
But the Blueshirts helped themselves to some additional offense anyway.
And in the center of it all was the Austrian Rocket; Michael Grabner.
A neutral zone turnover by the Flyers led Grabner to find the puck on his stick and he took it straight to the house; tallying his 20th goal of the season.
All this scoring must have seemed like paradise to the Rangers and they weren’t ready to stop enjoying it.
At the 17:28 mark of the middle period, the Flyers’ skaters allowed Nash to waltz in on Elliott unguarded. And Nash, being the goal-scorer he’s been throughout his career, didn’t miss.
With the score now 5-1 the Rangers went into clock-killing mode for the third period; ending both the Flyers’ four-game winning-streak and their own three-game losing-streak.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
PAPA JOHN’S: It’s been awhile, but the Rangers finally tallied three or more goals against an opponent. And this time around, the Blueshirts had the discounted pizza wrapped up before the first intermission.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: The Blueshirts have tallied at least a point in 15 of their last 19 home contests, compiling a record of 14-4-1 over that span.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Broadway Blueshirts went three-for-three on the penalty-kill and one-for-two on the man advantage. Included in that is their first short-handed goal of the season (Paul Carey).
GROUNDING THE FLYERS: The Blueshirts have won seven of their last eight games against their Philadelphia-based rivals. Going back further, the Rangers have tallied a remarkable 23-7-1 record against the Flyers since March 6, 2011.
HIS MAJESTY: A history making effort for the King was made all the more enjoyable thanks to his subjects providing an abundance of offense. With 25-saves, Henrik Lundqvist became the first goalie in NHL history to win 20 or more games in a season for the first 13 consecutive years of his career. He is also the only goaltender to win 20 plus games in 13 straight seasons at any point in his career.
The Rangers face Jack Eichel and the Sabres Thursday (Jan. 18) at MSG. Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Broadcast: NBCSN and MSG Network.
This game was a long time coming. But before we go any further it’s crucial to remember, it’s just one game.
While the Rangers looked impressive tonight, they can hardly stand to become overconfident or complacent.
The Metropolitan Division is so bunched up in the standings that at least one deserving team will likely miss the playoffs.
Let’s hope it’s not the Blueshirts.
As long as they continue to play like they did tonight, they won’t have to worry come April.
But first and foremost the Rangers need to get healthy as they have Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes on the shelf. And Marc Staal likely joining them after leaving the game after the second period with a hip flexor injury.