Simply, it was the Rangers most complete effort of the season, and consequently their most dominant performance in the Alain Vigneault era.
The Rangers outclassed the Flyers in all facets of the game in routing their Metropolitan Division rivals, 4-1. The Rangers have won three in a row and have improved to 24-20-3. The three-game winning streak is their third of the season.
“I think we had it under control,” Anton Stralman said.
With the win, the Rangers moved to sixth in the East with 51 points. Washington also has 51 points, but they have played in two fewer games than the Rangers and have four fewer regulation losses.
Every Blueshirt contributed to the rout.
Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves. Daniel Carcillo, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider each scored goals. Eight players finished with at least one point. The Rangers had 13 players at plus-1 or better, led by third-pair defensemen John Moore and Michael Del Zotto, who were plus-2.
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The man-advantage units, for so long a disadvantage under former head coach John Tortorella and assistant coach Mike Sullivan, contributed a goal as they continue a surge that has them in the top 5 in the league.
“This year [the coaching staff is] preparing us really well,” Brassard said. “We know what to expect every night. We’re making plays; we have some guys who can quarterback the power play in [Brad Richards] and [Ryan McDonagh] and all those guys. We’re just making the right plays all the time. We find seams. We’re doing a great job right now.”
Most noticeably, they were able to maintain their discipline and not retaliate against a frustrated Flyers squad. The Rangers finished with seven penalties totaling 36 minutes, most of which occurred in a line brawl with 11 seconds left. Carcillo — who fought Luke Schenn in the second — and Brian Boyle were each assessed 10-minute misconducts for fights, and John Moore received a five-minute major for fighting Brayden Schenn.
Philadelphia finished with 10 penalties spanning 42 minutes.
“No. No surprises there,” Carcillo said of the end-of-game fracas that had been building throughout the match, underscored by a game-long dialogue between he and Wayne Simmonds. “It is what it is. It’s 3-0 and [we’re] finishing hits and they have no jump. There [are] only so many times you can ask a guy before something happens. It’s the 15th time, five different players, maybe not the best spot to do it, but we seemed to respond pretty well.”
The Rangers had an attack mentality throughout, as they finished with a 67-49 advantage in attempted shots. The Flyers had more shots on goal, 38-35.
It paid off immediately as the Rangers went into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead. Carcillo opened the scoring with a spinning backhander past Ray Emery (31 saves) 2:14 into the match. Nash increased the lead to 2-0 just 28 seconds later with a wrist shot from the slot. Brassard’s slapshot at 9:24 pushed the advantage to 3-0.
Kreider banked a shot off a Flyer standing in front of Emery midway through the second to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead.
“You have to continue to play the way that got you to 3-0,” Derek Stepan said. “That’s why you’re seeing more offense is because as a defensive team we’re playing much better.”
So is the most important Ranger, who was a stalwart in goal last night. Lundqvist only allowed ex-Islander Mark Streit’s power-play goal 6:49 into the third while showing the form that has made him the franchise’s bedrock the last nine years.
“The last few weeks I’ve been consistent in the way I play my game,” Lundqvist said. “I’m happy with the way I am playing my game right now.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.