NEW YORK -- In a crucial Metropolitan Division matchup featuring two longtime rivals, the New York Rangers overwhelmed the Philadelphia Flyers practically from the opening faceoff. And a familiar face got things started.
Former Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo was the first of three different Rangers to score in the opening period and Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 victory Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
New York's jump from the opening faceoff started with Carcillo, whose last goal at MSG was the game-winner as a Flyer in a 4-2 Philadelphia victory on Feb. 20, 2011. He got things started 2:14 into the game Sunday, finding a loose puck behind the Flyers net and beating Emery off a quick wraparound on his backhand.
Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 4, Carcillo scored his second of the season and first as a Ranger.
"I was just trying to take the puck hard to the net. I didn't see a gap, but I knew I kind of had him by surprise a little bit," Carcillo said. "It's just nice. I haven't scored in a long time."
With the win, New York leapfrogged the Flyers to tie the Washington Capitals for second in the division with 51 points. Washington has two games in hand.
"The division is so tight. You lose one or two and you're in fourth now," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "You've got to win your games and that's all you should look at."
The MSG crowd barely had time to relish Carcillo's score when Nash doubled the New York lead 28 seconds later.
The streaking Nash was found all alone in the slot by Kreider, taking a moment to cradle the puck before beating Emery low to the blocker side for his 11th of the season. His fourth goal in four games momentarily tied Nash with four other players for the team goals lead. The early 2-0 lead compelled Berube to use his lone timeout 2:42 into the game.
Vincent Lecavalier tested Lundqvist shortly after the timeout, but the veteran's rising shot from the slot 3:41 into the game was swatted away by Lundqvist's quick glove. The Swedish Olympian wasn't tested often, but he made big stops when he had to.
"They go hard to the net, but they always do. I kind of like these games. They are a little more intense," Lundqvist said. "You have to love that, when you can feel the intensity in the building and on the ice too."
By the time the second period started, the Rangers were the ones providing much of the intensity.
Already up 3-0 after 20 minutes, it was New York's red-hot power play that added to the lead. Philadelphia's sixth-ranked penalty kill stopped the Rangers in their first four man advantages. But when Nicklas Grossmann was called for boarding with 8:23 remaining in the middle period, the Rangers' power play went back to work.
Sean Couturier's clearing attempt at the blue line was stopped by Brad Richards, giving Kreider a 2-on-1 down low. Using Nash as a decoy, Kreider crept in from the left side and beat Emery on the backhand. It gave New York a power-play goal in five straight games and allowed Kreider to regain the team lead with his 12th at 13:18.
Penalties continue to be an issue for the Flyers, who came into the game as the League's most-penalized team. Those penalties didn't just allow the Rangers to pull away Sunday, but also made it difficult for Philadelphia to harness any momentum.
"We talk about it all the time. It's got to stop. I stressed it before the game, about not taking penalties. We use certain guys killing penalties and they end up playing too much," Berube said. "We just can't take them. You can't put your team in a hole like that."
That hole was established primarily in the first period that saw the Rangers come out strong against a Flyers team that lost 6-3 Saturday afternoon at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning. New York was up 2-0 early, but it was their third first-period goal that ultimately put the game out of reach.
That 3-0 lead came courtesy of Brassard, who gave New York three goals from three different lines with 10:36 remaining in the first. After Braydon Coburn broke his stick while chasing a loose puck along the boards, Mats Zuccarello took advantage of the defenseman's misfortune.
The Norwegian Olympian grabbed the puck along the left wing and fed Brassard, who slapped a one-timer past Emery for his eighth of the season. Brassard now has goals in consecutive games for the first time all season, with Zuccarello setting up both scores.
"His vision is really good. I really enjoy playing with Mats," Brassard said of his linemate. "He is showing to everyone how good of a player he is. I think he's already one of the elite players in the League. He's really a key player for our team."
New York thought it had another goal 2:44 later when the puck slipped behind Emery following a mad scramble in the crease. The goal light went on, but with a delayed holding penalty coming to Grossmann, officials ruled the Flyers had touched the puck to stop play.
Down 4-0 in the third, Streit spoiled Lundqvist's shutout when his point shot on the power play went in at 6:49. But the Flyers wouldn't get any closer and the Rangers clamped down defensively to preserve their fourth win in five games.