PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Claude Giroux scored twice and Carter Hart stopped 26 shots to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to their fifth straight win, 5-2 over the New York Rangers on Friday night. The Flyers have been sensational of late as they surge up the Eastern Conference standings.
The Flyers are an impressive 23-5-4 at home and Hart has been about flawless at the Wells Fargo Center. He improved to 18-2-2 at home this season; 14-1 over his last 15 starts and was dominant against the Rangers after he allowed a quirky goal early in the game.
The Flyers were revitalized by first-year coach Alain Vigneault, who coached the Rangers for five seasons and led them to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, and suddenly seem like a team ready to make some noise in the playoffs. The Flyers missed the postseason last season and haven’t been to the second round since 2012. Hart gives them a chance every night and the Flyers get production from every line.
Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes also scored to help the Flyers beat the Rangers for the eighth time in the last nine games of the series.
The Rangers’ playoff push suffered a blow when forward Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot in the first period. He appeared to get hurt when he blocked a shot by Phillipe Myers and could miss significant time. The 28-year-old Kreider just signed a seven-year contract extension reportedly worth $45 million on Monday. Kreider has 24 goals and 21 assists for 45 points in 63 games this season. Kreider was a 2009 first-round draft pick and has played his entire career with New York.
The Rangers came into the game with a franchise-record nine straight road wins, and nine wins in their last 10 overall. They trail Columbus — which lost 5-0 to Minnesota — by two points for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Without Kreider, the road to the postseason just got bumpier for the Rangers.
Fast gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 2:49 into the game on a weird goal. Hart batted away the slapper, the puck fell in front of him, and Fast whooshed by to tap it in for his 12th goal of the season.
That was it for the Rangers until the final seconds when Howden poked one in to make it 5-2.
Hart stopped everything and continued to show why the Flyers expect him to play as their franchise goalie for years to come.
Jake Voracek, who had four assists, passed from behind the net and fed Couturier for the tying goal late in the first. Van Riemsdyk pounded in a rebound and Giroux scored on a one-timer in the second period to make it 3-1.
Giroux scored his 18th goal of the season, a power-play effort in the third, and Hayes scored against his former team to make it 5-1 and seal the win.
Oskar Lindblom, out indefinitely with a rare bone cancer, posted an Instagram video of the Flyers game on TV with the caption “Let’s Go.”
The Flyers sure are going, straight up the standings.
NOTES: Hayes had a beer named after him by Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing Company. The double New England style IPA is called Big Hayes-y 13. The Flyers are 18-0-1 when he scores a goal. … Former Flyers great Eric Lindros — who also played for the Rangers — turned 48 on Friday and tweeted, “The only downside to the day was when I had to tell my oldest son that Carter Hart wasn’t coming to my birthday party.”
The Flyers and Rangers have a rematch Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
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