Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The last two games have drove the New York Rangers to the brink. But a big bounce-back effort for the Blueshirts on home ice turned things around. 

Things certainly haven’t been going the New York Rangers way lately and, true to form, only two minutes into the game it was the road Philadelphia Flyers who struck first on Tuesday night at the Garden.

It was hard to point fingers on this one as it appeared to be some simple puck luck on a broken play. A Flyers defenseman laced a shot wide of the net and fourth-liner Jordan Weal was able to redirect the puck into the net past Henrik Lundqvist. 

But despite the early ominous sign, it was the Rangers who put their goal-scoring shoes on in taking the contest by a beat down score of 5-1.

Responding quickly, Rick Nash was able to get the monkey off his back with a breakaway goal. A rejuvenated first liner in Pavel Buchnevich was all over the ice tonight. He fired a great pass on Nash’s stick to spring him on the breakaway.

From that point on, the floodgates were open.

This was a very different New York Rangers team this evening and for those who doubt Alain Vigneault‘s ability as a motivator, look no further. The team was down blocking shots, there was jump in everybody’s step and they played with serious pace.

J.T. Miller kept the party going with a power-play goal with three minutes left in the period. Ryan McDonagh threw the puck on net and Miller, working in Chris Kreider‘s office, was able to get the tip by Brian Elliott.

Two minutes later, Paul Carey added to the fun with a short-handed snipe. This was the Rangers’ first short-handed goal of the season which is surprising considering the Michael GrabnerKevin Hayes combo is usually good for three to four short handed scoring opportunities a game.

Recent minor league call up Peter Holland corralled a loose puck after a Flyer blew a tire, and fired a pass right on Carey’s stick. Carey did the rest using a a quick release to beat Elliott to the glove side.

Michael Grabner felt left out of the party so he decided to take things into his own hands. Grabner pick pocketed Jakub Voracek in the neutral zone, hopped on the puck and slide a shot through the wickets of Brian Elliott.

It was a fantastic individual effort by Grabner as he continues his very strong season.

Henrik Lundqvist was most definitely sharp in this one as well. The Flyers really brought pressure to start things off in the second period. Lundqvist was able to deny Claude Giroux a couple times, and second overall pick of last years draft Nolan Patrick. We then witnessed a weak turnover by Buchnevich, but as you all know, Alain Vigneault completely misuses him all the time.

Nash, who looked strong all night coming down his off wing (the right side) buried his second of the evening with a low wrister that beat Elliott to the blocker side—a move that might help the Rangers could be sliding Nash to the right side.

The Rangers sat in a neutral zone trap in the third period and limited the Flyers and cruised to the 5-1 win. A much needed two points for the Rangers. Yes, many will argue the small tinkering with the lineup made a difference, but it was the whole group effort by the players that was the biggest difference.

Everyone was engaged, they jumped on loose pucks, and played with pace.

The only dash of bad news came in the form of Marc Staal who suffered a hip-flexor injury.

The Rangers stay home and return to action at the Garden on Thursday night for a Winter Classic rematch with the Buffalo Sabres. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. ET.

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.