NHL Game Summary - NY Rangers at Philadelphia
(Wednesday, October 5th)
Final Score: NY Rangers 5, Philadelphia 3
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Jaromir Jagr scored two power-play goals in the third period to lift the New York Rangers to a season-opening 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, as the NHL returned to the Wachovia Center for the first time since May of 2004. All 30 teams in the league were in action on Wednesday night following the 10-month lockout that caused the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.
Jason Strudwick, Michael Nylander and Marcel Hossa each added a goal for the Rangers, who won only once in six games against Philadelphia in 2003-04. Kevin Weekes allowed three goals on 27 shots for the Rangers, who are now 31-35-13 all-time in season openers.
Star forward Peter Forsberg made his debut and recorded a pair of assists for the Flyers, who fell to 17-14-7 in season-opening contests. Mike Richards, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers, whose last NHL game ended with a loss in Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals. Eric Desjardins also added two assists.
The Flyers rebuilt a large portion of their roster during and after the labor stoppage. Stalwart forwards John LeClair, Marc Recchi, Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte are gone, while Forsberg, rugged forwards Knuble and Turner Stevenson, and veteran defensemen Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje now skate for Philadelphia.
New York failed to make the playoffs in the previous seven seasons before the lockout and also looks much different since the spring of 2004. While Jagr is obviously still with the club, Eric Lindros and Mark Messier are not. Lindros signed with Toronto and Messier retired. Longtime Ranger great Brian Leetch, who was dealt to the Maple Leafs near the '04 trade deadline, is now with Boston.
Five minutes after he tied the game at 3-3 in the third period, Jagr scored another power-play goal in similar fashion to put the Rangers ahead for good. After Forsberg was whistled for tripping at 10:44, Jagr held the puck inside the right circle and fired a wrist shot past goaltender Robert Esche at 11:26.
"He wasn't expecting me to shoot," said Jagr of Esche.
Less than a minute later, with 8:01 to play in regulation, the Rangers put the game away when Hossa punched home a rebound from the right post after a low turnaround shot from Steve Rucchin.
Esche allowed five goals on 27 shots.
"I've felt pretty confident shaking off losses before," said Esche. "I want to win every night. It is very frustrating."
The Flyers scored just once on 10 power play chances. In contrast, New York made good on two of its four opportunities with the extra skater, with both goals coming off the stick of Jagr in the third.
Despite the heavily-favored Flyers controlling the action with physical play through the early stages of the opening period, it was the Rangers who scored the game's first goal. A slapshot by Nylander was deflected by Strudwick and beat Esche at 9:31.
Just over two minutes later, the game was tied. Forsberg wasted little time making an impact on his new team, as he broke in with Gagne on a 2-on-1 and slipped a pass through the slot before Gagne ripped it home at 11:39.
A major change that comprises the new NHL is the mandate on the referees to enforce the rules in a more strict fashion. In the recent exhibition games, this resulted in many more penalties called and thus more power-play chances.
This game was no different. Shortly after the goal by Gagne, the Rangers were called for two infractions in a 37-second span that gave the Flyers a two-man advantage. Jagr was called for hooking and Darius Kasparaitis was whistled for high-sticking. Philadelphia used the extra space well and moved the puck down low before Forsberg found Knuble in the low slot. The former Boston Bruin beat Weekes for his first goal as a Flyer with 6:06 remaining in the first period.
Richards is one of the Flyers' top young forwards and his first NHL marker gave Philly a 3-1 lead in the middle stanza. He took a nice feed from Desjardins at the blue line, held off New York defenseman Fedor Tyutin through the slot and beat Weekes on a partial breakaway at the 7:23 mark.
The Rangers had a great chance to move within one when they were awarded a penalty shot midway through the middle stanza. Nylander took the disc from center ice and made a nice backhand move that clearly beat Esche, but his shot hit the crossbar and bounced away.
However, with just over three minutes remaining in the second, Nylander gained his revenge and made it a 3-2 game. He took advantage of a failed clearing pass by the Flyers and used a blazing turnaround slapshot to beat Esche up high.
Also in the second frame, Philadelphia wasted two separate two-man advantage opportunities that could have increased its lead and it came back to hurt the Flyers when Jagr tied it up at 6:28 of the third. Rookie Jon Sim went to the box for a high-sticking minor, and Jagr made the Flyers pay from the right circle.
"We had a couple chances to go up 4-1, but credit them, they outplayed us," Forsberg said.
Hatcher, who nursed a sore knee through most of training camp, did not play...Philadelphia lost just once in the preseason (6-1-0)...Despite the loss, the Flyers have still won 10 of the last 14 meetings overall...Philadelphia will host rival New Jersey here on Friday. The Rangers will host Montreal on Thursday.
10/06 00:17:39 ET