Neal Pionk's goal in Toronto was the 14th goal by the Rangers' defensemen over their last 21 games.
The Flyers, who used their sixth goaltender of 2018-19 when Carter Hart made his NHL debut on Tuesday in the team's 31st game of the season, rank 29th in the league, allowing 3.62 goals per game.
Claude Giroux, coming off his first career 100-point season (34-68-102), is back on a 100-point pace this year with 41 points (12-29-41) in 33 games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Filip Chytil, who back on Nov. 23 had his five-game goal streak snapped in Philadelphia, has points in four of the last five games (1-3-4) and showed some flashes on creative brilliance on Saturday in Toronto.
Travis Konecny had a goal and two assists in the Flyers' win over the Rangers on Nov. 23, making in eight points (4-4-8) in his last four games against the Blueshirts.
"We came off two hard-fought wins, and we played a game where we certainly had our fair share of chances and eliminated their amount of opportunities. We should go to New York feeling confident about our game." - Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon following his team's 4-3 loss to Columbus on Saturday afternoon, in which the Flyers held a 67-30 edge in shot attempts.
BOYS IN BLUE
After a quick trip up to Ontario on Saturday, it's time to get back to the division schedule, and time to get back to Broadway. Time for the Rangers to come home for Christmas.
The Blueshirts will hit the ice on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden for their final game before the three-day league-wide Christmas break, and while Henrik Lundqvist said on Friday that "we're going to try to leave everything we've got out there for this weekend and try to go into this break with a good feeling," the Blueshirts also have the bigger picture in mind of continuing their pace on home ice. The team plays a pair of Metropolitan Division home games surrounding Christmas Day, against the Flyers on Sunday and the Blue Jackets on Thursday, just their third and fourth home games within the division this season. After that, seven of their next nine games are set in visiting rinks.
The Rangers' 5-3 loss in Toronto on Saturday was just the team's second regulation defeat in their last seven games - both have come on the road against the top two teams in the NHL, Tampa Bay and Toronto. But they are just 1-6 over their last seven road games, a stretch that included a 4-0 loss in Philadelphia the day after Thanksgiving.
"Quick turnaround (on Sunday), can't get too down," Marc Staal said after the Rangers' rally fell short in Toronto. "Just got to build off things we did well, go back to our own rink and try to get a win."
At their own rink, the Rangers are 9-1-3 since Oct. 23. When last they played in front of the Garden fans, back on Tuesday, they were overrunning the Anaheim Ducks in the third period to the tune of a 14-1 shots advantage and three unanswered goals in a 3-1 win.
Alexandar Georgiev picked up the win in that one, and David Quinn went back to his rookie netminder for a second straight start on Saturday in Toronto. So Lundqvist is in line for the back-to-back finale the Flyers, against whom he is 35-17-4 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in his career.
Georgiev did well on Saturday to rebound from an early opening goal, on a Patrick Marleau redirection up high that seemed to cross him up, after which he stopped the next 24 shots he saw to take his team into the third period in a 1-1 tie. "This is a great situation to put him in," Quinn said about starting Georgiev against the now 24-10-2 Leafs, "another learning opportunity for him to play in this type of environment against that type of team. And I thought he responded well."
He wasn't the only one of Quinn's youngsters to catch the coach's eye on Saturday. Neal Pionk cranked home his fifth goal of the season on four shots on goal in the game, and added a third-period assist on Kevin Hayes' tally. Filip Chytil set up that one beautifully, turning Morgan Rielly inside-out before shoveling a falling shot on net for Hayes to bury the putback.
Speaking about Pionk, Quinn said: "He's really stepped up and played well in games of this magnitude. I thought all our young players did a really good job - I thought Lias Andersson had a good night, I thought Chytil had a really good night, (Brett) Howden had a good night. Our young kids played well tonight."
"You have to take away the good and learn from the bad," Chris Kreider said. "I think regardless of the outcome, the process and our game is continuing to improve. You see the young guys taking strides every single night. There's less thinking, more reacting, guys trusting their instincts.
"We're tilting the ice a lot more than we have been, especially against some pretty good teams. We've just got to continue to do that, continue to work on our game, and I think the results will take care of themselves."
Hayes' goal off Chytil's set-up extended his points streak to a career-high six games, and his assist on Kreider's team-leading 16th goal late in the game made it multiple points for Hayes in five of those six games. He has 12 points (5-7-12) over the stretch.
Hayes has scored four times in his last seven meetings with the Flyers, who begin a five-game road trip with their first visit to the Garden in 2018-19, which already has been a season of upheaval in Philadelphia. The team let go its general manager, Ron Hextall, on Nov. 26, handing over the reins to Chuck Fletcher, who was on the job just two weeks before changing head coaches, replacing Dave Hakstol with former Islanders bench boss Scott Gordon on an interim basis.
Gordon's Flyers and Quinn's Rangers - the two coached together behind the American bench at the 2012 World Championships - were two of 28 NHL teams in action on Saturday; Philly's 4-3 home-ice loss to Columbus in the afternoon was their first loss in three games under Gordon. It also was the first NHL defeat for Carter Hart, the 20-year-old netminder who had won the previous two.
The Flyers, who have used six goaltenders in their 33 games this season, could turn to Michal Neuvirth on Sunday to oppose Lundqvist. Neuvirth, in an injury-hampered campaign, has started just twice for the Flyers this season and has stopped 23 of 32 shots (.719 save percentage).
Philadelphia has lost its last four road games (0-3-1).
Posted 2018-12-23 6:58 PM (#716791 - in reply to #716745) Subject: Re: Game 35: Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers 12/23/18- 7pm - MSG/NHLN-US
We should learn hockey and wining does help but mainly we should stay on learning the game and tactics.
Benching young players is stupid in my opinion.If the given year player constantly pulls out stupid play then he is not worthy to be on this team.
Posted 2018-12-24 11:02 AM (#716825 - in reply to #716745) Subject: Re: Game 35: Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers 12/23/18- 7pm - MSG/NHLN-US
Well finally got our internet straightened out down here(I Hope) Hopefully now I can take advantage of Mandars ability to come up with feeds for the games. Internet was cutting in and out, to much last night to watch, apparently i didn't miss much. Tech came by this morning replaced a couple parts smacked a couple other parts with a hammer and it seems good to go. Merry Christmas to all the Ranger fans.