There are several side effects that come with facing the same opponent eight times in a single, and shortened, season. The Rangers played the Flyers four times just this month, and took extremely lopsided wins in the previous two games, so they had a vengeful group on their hands Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
The Flyers buckled down and pulled out a 2-1 win to redeem themselves after they had been outscored 17-3 in their past two meetings with the Blueshirts, ending a four-game losing skid.
But if there were any concerns regarding Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin’s recovery from his groin strain that sidelined him for 10 games, he put those to rest.
In his second start since March 4, and second in the past three days, Shesterkin kept the Rangers competitive with 35 saves on 37 shots in the loss, which dropped his team to 15-14-4.
With the game tied 1-1 entering the third period, Flyers center Scott Laughton jumped out on breakaway at 22 mph 5 ½ minutes in, but Shesterkin stifled his backhander to keep the Rangers’ chances alive.
But a defensive breakdown in front of Shesterkin at 15:33 resulted in a goal when Samuel Morin blasted the puck from the top of the zone and into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.
It was another tremendous outing for Shesterkin since his return in Thursday’s 8-3 victory over the Flyers, in which he made 41 saves.
The Flyers came out with the expected desperation of a team that was looking for redemption. Shesterkin came up with eight saves in the first five minutes of the game on the way to a 17-save first-period.
Mika Zibanejad’s tear against Philadelphia continued at 9:29 of the first on the power play after Travis Konecny was called for roughing Zibanejad. Ryan Strome sent a pinpoint pass to Zibanejad for the one-timer into a wide-open net to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead on their eighth power-play goal in the past six games.
It was Zibanejad’s seventh goal against the Flyers in their past three meetings.
The Rangers found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 opportunity halfway through the second period, which pumped some life back into Philadelphia. Though Shesterkin came up with two big saves while his team was down two players, Flyers center Nolan Patrick redirected a point shot from Sean Couturier in the final seconds of the power play to tie it up 1-1.