At some point, you just have to admit that a team has your number. The New York Rangers handily dispatched the Philadelphia Flyers in Saturday's matinee at Wells Fargo Center, 5-2, for their fifth straight victory against Philadelphia this season -- and their seventh in a row overall. Captain Ryan Callahan played a brilliant game on both sides of the ice -- when doesn't he? -- notching a hat trick to give him 21 goals for the year. Marian Gaborik also had a stellar day with a goal and three assists.
The Blueshirts also entered the game mired in a deep power-play funk: 3 for their last 53. Except on Saturday, they connected on three of their seven power plays -- three in a row -- with the last few "careful" man advantages with a lead and not many risky chances taken.
Callahan began the scoring at 8:25 of a hard-working first with a bank-shot off of Sergei Bobrovsky on the power play, but Wayne Simmonds answered right back with his 18th on a slick deflection at the front of the net. The Flyers made a concerted effort to stick bodies in front of Henrik Lundqvist all game, but he was brilliant throughout, making 31 saves in the win. Credit also has to go to the blueline play, as the defensemen really were physical in trying to prevent good second chances and move bodies out of Lundqvist's way. New York went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead on a world-class deflection by Gaborik via a brilliant Brad Richards pass. Richards had three assists.
Claude Giroux beat Lundqvist on a breakaway after Marc Staal got caught pinching and nobody was back on that side to help. Yet New York was resilient yet again and it never really appeared like this game would get out of hand. Callahan tapped in the easy goal with an open net on Michael Del Zotto's crisp pass. Even with these two goals and the slight advantage, the story was Lundqvist in this period, as Philadelphia controlled most of the even-strength play -- it had 18 shots to the Rangers' seven.
Artem Anismov potted his ninth as Derek Stepan threaded the needle in the crease at 6:28, and Callahan roofed a shot five minutes later for his 21st.
The Rangers showed in this game that they can be physical, but be smart and mature about it all. They also proved how important a power play can be for their fortunes. They'll take on the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon.