In Cam We Trust. Behind the goaltending of Cam Talbot, the Rangers shutout the Flyers 2-0 to end a three-game losing streak. Making his first start since Nov. 8, Talbot was sharp turning aside all 31 shots for his fourth career shutout. He wasn’t as busy as Steve Mason but the popular Rangers backup was up to the challenge. That included some key stops late when Flyers coach Craig Berube pulled Mason with over three minutes left.
”It’s a little difficult knowing that I haven’t really contributed to the team much this year,” said Talbot after winning his first game of the season. ”To be able to come out today and provide a big win after what’s been kind of a low stretch for us, it’s pretty big.”
From a psychological standpoint, it’s huge for Talbot’s confidence. He clearly struggled in his first three outings and needed a good performance. During a long season, the Rangers will need him to give Henrik Lundqvist nights off. For once, the team put together a full 60-minute effort. Even if they made the last three minutes feel like an eternity, it was like night and day. They defended well and forwards hustled back. The Blueshirts won battles all over the ice which infuriated Flyers GM Ron Hextall. Via Puck Daddy, he roasted his team in the locker room.
”It bothered me a lot,” Hextall said. ”I don’t think we were hungry enough. I’m very disappointed.”
Rivalry Night brought out the best for our side. It’s hard to explain why the Flyers were so flat. They never were really in it. If not for Mason, the Rangers could’ve had a laugher and won rather handily. But Mason gave his team a chance. He played extremely well and deserved better. He was peppered in the first two periods. The Rangers fired 27 shots and countless others including a couple of goalposts. They responded following Monday’s beating that had players and coach at a loss for words.
Kevin Klein continued his renaissance scoring for the fourth time already which matched a career high. The former Predator defenseman acquired for Michael Del Zotto has been an unsung hero. He continues to provide Alain Vigneault with a dependable blueliner capable of playing top four minutes. Once Ryan McDonagh returns, he won’t have to. But who can argue with Klein’s production? Known as a defensive defenseman, he’s added offense. So much for Dan Boyle leading the charge.
The Rangers were shorthanded late in the first period but escaped trouble. In fact, Rick Nash was stoned by Mason on a shorthanded bid with time winding down. There was little Mason could’ve done to stop Nash from steering home his team-leading 13th which increased the lead to 2-0 nearly midway through. His power play goal was perfectly set up thanks to some great passing between Boyle, Derek Stepan and Marty St. Louis. With Nick Schultz off for slashing, they worked the puck around following a Mason save on Nash. This time, Boyle fed Stepan at the point. He then dished for St. Louis who threaded the needle to Nash for an easy put away.
They easily could’ve had more. Mason did everything possible to keep his team in the game. It should’ve been a blowout. That’s how out of sync the Flyers looked. They were a couple of steps behind chasing the puck. Even with captain Claude Giroux surprisingly dressing, they really didn’t mount much of an attack. Especially the first two periods where they were completely outplayed. Talbot still had to come up with at least one tricky save off a weird sequence. Boyle helped tuck the puck underneath.
Both Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello had good nights. Each hit the post and were active during shifts. Kreider was more visible and threw the body while Zuccarello was his pesky self making a sliding block to deny a Del Zotto chance. Speaking of which, the former Ranger got over 16 minutes during the first two periods before leaving with an injury. Of course, he was booed. Playing that many minutes speaks volumes about the Flyers. They just don’t have much on the blueline. Luke Schenn is still out.
There was one scary incident late in the second where Braydon Coburn accidentally knocked down Mason behind the net. At first, Wayne Simmonds thought Tanner Glass was the guilty party. But the replay showed that he wisely avoided Mason, who had the misfortune of being run over by his own teammate. Fortunately, he was able to stay in the game.
”He [Mason] stood on his head for 60 minutes and we didn’t support him,” said Simmonds. ”We just didn’t show up.”
The Flyers got some chances in the third. They actually had 13 shots but an aggressive Talbot came out to challenge shooters. He also exhibited a quick glove denying Voracek late with Mason on the bench. When it was over, Voracek gave him a stick tap. His 10-game point streak was snapped.
”That was Cam’s real good performance. We need that from him,” Vigneault noted. ”Hopefully that will give him the confidence that he needs right now to continue to do that for us.”
NY Puck 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Kevin Klein, NYR (GWG-4th of season, 3 SOG, 2 hits, +1 in 27 shifts-17:51)
2nd Star-Cam Talbot, NYR (31 saves for 4th career shutout)
1st Star-Steve Mason, Flyers (32 saves incl. 25/27 thru 2)