The fans at MSG chanted Sean Avery’s name this afternoon as his two goals helped propel the Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Old time hockey made it’s long-awaited return to a Rangers’ game as the tilt was chippy from start to finish.
The Rangers fell behind early when Danny Briere scored just over four minutes in to get the Flyers on the board. As usual, the Rangers got off to a slow start in an afternoon game. They can never seem to have their heads and legs in the game for these early games, but they would get better as it moved on.
Avery would net his first of two less than two minutes into the second period, when Wade Redden took a shot from the point that took a crazy bounce off a defender in front and landed right on the tape of Avery’s stick. Three minutes later, Michal Rozsival would score his third goal of the season (first on the powerplay) when he took a bomb of a slapshot from the point that went off the post and in. That would be Rozsival’s 20th powerplay goal as a Ranger, over the course of the last five seasons. Erik Christensen would assist on both goals while Redden and Drury added one each as well.
Towards the end of the second period, Scott Hartnell would cross-check Avery and as the two skated around during the shift, they locked up at center ice. Hartnell would drop his gloves and look to fight, but Avery did not. Hartnell would be penalized on the play as Avery did what he does best; agitate.
With five minutes to go in the third, Avery would score his second of the game and seal the deal for the Rangers. He took what looked like a harmless wristshot from the half-boards that Michael Leighton missed, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead. Girardi and Drury would add assists. Brandon Dubinsky would later fight Mike Richards, and beat him, making that his first winning fight in a long time. Henrik Lundqvist had a fairly easy night and stopped 17 of 18 shots.
When the buzzer ended, Staal and Hartnell would go at it but gloves stayed on. As Sam Rosen pointed out during the broadcast, Avery has the ability to take over a game and put on a performance like this. However, he also has the ability to disappear for weeks at a time. He was scratched in the last game and hopefully that served as the motivation for him to play this type of game the rest of the way.