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Michal Neuvirth impressive in goal as Flyers beat Rangers in shootout

Neuvirth was making only his third start of the season, as 20-year-old phenom Carter Hart got some rest.

Michal Neuvirth gets his glove on puck and stick of Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello during the second period of the Flyers' win on Sunday.
Michal Neuvirth gets his glove on puck and stick of Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello during the second period of the Flyers' win on Sunday.Read moreHoward Simmons / AP

NEW YORK -- Playing only his third game of the season, Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth was sharp throughout regulation, overtime, and finally the shootout.

Nolan Patrick’s goal in the shootout was the difference as the Flyers beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Neuvirth’s play kept the Flyers in the game.

"It means a lot for me personally and it is one of my biggest wins in my career and feels real nice right now,” said Neuvirth, who has been held back by a groin injury this season.

The Flyers, who will now take three days off for the NHL’s Christmas break, are 3-1 under interim coach Scott Gordon.

After both teams failed to score in the shootout with their first three shooters, Patrick scored, and the goal stood up when Kevin Hayes shot wide to end the game.

“That last shot I got lucky,” Neuvirth said. “He had a wide-open net ...”

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made some big saves in overtime, including stopping Claude Giroux on a shot from the slot.

Neuvirth was matching him save for save.

"I was getting more confident, still getting my confidence up every save in the third period,” he said

The Flyers took a 2-1 lead with 14 minutes, 59 seconds left in the third period, scoring on a power-play goal by Wayne Simmonds. It was the first time the Flyers have scored power-play goals in consecutive games since Games 3 and 4 of the season.

Sean Couturier hit the post and the puck slid behind Lundqvist. Simmonds was on the spot to tap it in for his 11th goal.

Just 22 seconds later, the Rangers tied the score when Lias Andersson, from behind the net, fed Boo Nieves, who was in front, and Nieves fired in his first goal of the season.

Neuvirth kept the game tied after stopping a wide-open Bret Howden with 3:53 left in regulation. Late in the period, he stopped Pavel Buchnevich on a sliding save to send the game into overtime.

The Rangers opened the scoring with 9:55 left in the first period when Hayes tipped the puck past defenseman Ivan Provorov along the right wing and made an outstanding spinning pass to a wide-open Chris Kreider on the left wing.

Kreider then scored on a breakaway, beating Neuvirth on the short side and extending his team-leading goal total to 17.

Neuvirth kept the Flyers in the game by making an outstanding save on a one-timer from in front of the net by Buchnevich late in the first period.

During the 1-0 first period, Lundqvist set the tone by stopping Giroux from point-blank range early and made several other impressive saves.

Lundqvist entered the game with a 35-17-4 career record against the Flyers.

The Flyers finally solved Lundqvist when Michael Raffl tied the score at 1-1 with 18:14 left in the second period.

It was his first goal of the season in his 21st game and first since scoring against the Rangers last April 7 in the regular-season finale.

Raffl took a pass from Travis Sanhein and tipped the puck past defenseman Marc Staal, and skated toward the goal on a two-on-one with Scott Laughton on the left wing. Raffl looked off Laughton and then beat Lundqvist with a right-circle wrist shot.

“I saw Laughts coming on the left, but I was 100 percent sure he wasn’t going to touch the puck," Raffl said. "I was thinking shot the whole way.”

As for breaking his goal-scoring drought, Raffl had a natural reaction.

“It felt pretty good,, to be honest," he said. "Twenty games is a long time. I don’t think I’ve been playing pretty bad, so I had it coming.”

He also took some advice from his teammates to be more aggressive.

“I talked a little bit to the boys yesterday and they told me to shoot the puck a little more and I took it to heart and finally got one in,” Raffl said.