(New York, NY) – Scott Hartnell scored three consecutive goals in leading the Philadelphia Flyers to their sixth win in seven games, with a 6-2 thumping of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
With the game tied 2-2 in the second period, a little bit of luck was on the Flyers winger’s side as Philadelphia took its first lead of the contest. Hartnell threw the puck towards the net from the corner and it deflected in off of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lunqvist at 10:42.
A power play goal at 1:54 of the third gave Philadelphia a two-goal cushion, when Hartnell batted the puck out of midair over the shoulder of Lundqvist. He completed the natural hat trick with a pretty breakaway move at 8:49 to essentially put the game out of reach.
Mike Knuble celebrates his power play goal in the second period. (Getty Images)
It was the second hat trick in Hartnell’s career and first as a Flyer, as Philadelphia completed its six-game road trip with an impressive 5-1-0 mark.
“When you get a goal, they seem to come in bunches,” said Hartnell, who posted his second consecutive three-point night. “Tonight was no different. The first one was a lucky one and the third one I made a nice move and put it in.”
“I just love the fact we’re getting contributions from different areas of the hockey team all the time,” said coach John Stevens. “[Hartnell] is a gritty guy, and I thought that line was terrific.”
The game also marked the return of Simon Gagne, who missed the last 26 games with a concussion/neck discomfort. Gagne, who played just over 17 minutes, capped the scoring with a one-timer from the bottom of the circle on the power play with five minutes remaining.
More importantly, he felt fine at the conclusion.
“I got hit twice pretty hard tonight and I responded pretty good,” said Gagne. “I passed my first test.”
“As expected, I thought he waded his way into the game,” said Stevens. “I think he was a little tentative in the early going, but it was great to see him get on the scoreboard.”
The Flyers, who reached the midway point of the regular season, handed New York its fifth consecutive defeat.
The Rangers came out of the gate looking like they had more energy than the Flyers, badly outshooting Philadelphia and scoring the first two goals of the game in the process.
The goals came from an unlikely source. Ryan Hollweg, known as more of a nuisance on the ice than a scoring threat, swept in a rebound at 4:43 and then got a piece of the puck in front of the net after it was thrown from the corner by Dan Girardi at 7:42 as it bounced in off of Jason Smith and then goaltender Antero Niittymaki.
Scott Hartnell and Steve Downie after the Flyers took a 5-2 lead on Hartnell's breakaway goal. (Getty Images)
Mike Knuble’s deflection on the two-man advantage early in the second got the Flyers on the board, while Stefan Ruzicka tallied his first of the season later in the frame after Jim Dowd cancelled out an icing call and found him wide open in the slot.
“We got down 2-0, and I just love the resilience of our team,” said Stevens. “I thought we regrouped, and really started to take the game over. There wasn’t frustration; just more determination.”
Niittymaki, who was making his third straight start in net, recorded the win with 39 saves. He made 17 stops in the third period alone, including a nice pad save on Jaromir Jagr in front of the net.
The Flyers improved to 1-1-1 against the Rangers this season, with the next game set for January 31 at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia returns for its first home game in more than two weeks when the Boston Bruins visit the Wachovia Center for an afternoon tilt (1:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
FLYERS NOTES Mike Richards had three assists. … Dowd has one assist in each of the last three games after clearing waivers and sitting out of the game as a healthy scratch on January 4. … Along with Gagne, Smith and Sami Kapanen were back in the lineup after recovering from a leg injury and facial lacerations, respectively. Scottie Upshall remains out with a sprained right ankle. … Steve Downie has four points in his last three games (2g, 2a). … The Flyers have now equaled their win total from last season (22). … Philadelphia improved to 7-5-1 against the Atlantic Division. … Sean Avery (hand contusion) and Martin Straka (concussion) were out for the Rangers.
- - -
1 - 0 NYR
2 - 0 NYR
2 - 1 NYR
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 PHI
4 - 2 PHI
5 - 2 PHI