A loud, animated crowd made it feel like a playoff atmosphere Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, and the surging Flyers didn’t disappoint them.
They overcame an early deficit and whipped the New York Rangers, 5-2, to extend their winning streak to five games – equaling their longest of the season.
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Claude Giroux had a pair of goals, and Jake Voracek collected four assists, tying his career best, as the Flyers ended the Rangers’ franchise-record road winning streak at nine games. They also snapped the Blueshirts’ five-game winning streak.
“We played our game and we trust our game,” Giroux said after the Flyers outshot the Rangers, 40-28.
The Flyers, 15-5-2 since Jan. 7, moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division, slipping a point ahead of the Penguins, who lost in Anaheim, 3-2. Pittsburgh (37-20-6) has a game in hand on the Flyers (37-20-7).
With 18 games left, the Flyers have 37 wins -- the same number they had at the end of last season.
“In the second and third [periods], we’re wearing teams down,” said Voracek, who became the first Flyer to ever have four assists against the Rangers. “... It’s been like that all season long.”
For the Rangers, who are making a late-season playoff bid, the loss was extra painful because top-line left winger Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot blocking Phil Myers’ first-period shot and is sidelined indefinitely.
Kreider, who signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension Monday, has 24 goals and 45 points.
Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 26 saves and raised his home record to 18-2-2. He has won 13 of his last 14 starts at the Wells Fargo Center.
Giroux gave the Flyers a 4-1 lead when he converted Voracek’s feed as the Flyers were on a power play with 17 minutes, 24 seconds left in the third period. It gave him six goals and 14 points in his last 10 games.
With 7:04 to go, Kevin “Hollywood” Hayes converted a pass from Voracek to make it 5-1 against his former team.
“I thought everyone played good tonight. Especially Coots’ line,” said Hayes, referring to Sean Couturier and wingers Giroux and Voracek. That unit had three goals, five assists and 11 shots on goal.
The Flyers have scored 5-1 and 5-2 wins over the Rangers this season -- and allowed the first goal in both games. The teams will meet again Sunday in a matinee at Madison Square Garden.
Second-period goals by James van Riemsdyk (six shots) and the ever-present Giroux staked the Flyers to a 3-1 lead.
Van Riemsdyk scored from the left circle after goalie Alexander Georgiev allowed a long rebound on Nic Aube-Kubel’s right-circle shot. That put the Flyers ahead, 2-1, with seven minutes left in the second.
A little over two minutes later, Couturier, from the goal line near the right boards, found Giroux, who scored on a one-time blast from the right circle. Earlier in the period, Giroux hit the post and was stopped by Georgiev from point-blank range.
“It was huge,” Giroux said of his goal that made it 3-1, “They were coming at us a little bit in the second period. [Derek] Grant’s line had a good shift and gave us some momentum.”
Couturier’s 20th goal of the season knotted the score at 1-1 with 3:53 left in the opening period.
Voracek did the grunt work behind the net to set up Couturier in front.
“He won a huge one-on-one battle, and it created a lot of space,” Couturier said after scoring his seventh goal in the last 10 games. “All I had to do was go backdoor, and he found me.”
The Rangers had taken a 1-0 lead just 2:49 after the opening faceoff.
Jesper Fast, after taking a great stretch pass from Artemi Panarin (12-game point streak), fired a right-circle shot that hit off Hart’s glove and popped into the air. Fast knocked in the rebound with a one-handed swipe as he sped toward the net.
After Fast’s goal, the Flyers gradually took over the game before a roaring crowd.
“It was a full 60-minute effort tonight,” Hayes said.