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Flyers fail to answer big test from Rangers on Black Friday

Flyers fail to answer big test from Rangers on Black Friday originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Flyers were no match for the Rangers in a barometer type of matchup on Black Friday.

They fell to New York, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (10-9-1) have lost two straight in regulation after ripping off a season-best five consecutive wins.

Mika Zibanejad continued to haunt the Flyers with two more goals. He has 18 on the Flyers in his career, tied for his most against any team.

John Tortorella's club was pinned in a 3-0 hole 7:41 minutes into the middle stanza when Zibanejad potted his second marker.

With 2:21 minutes left in the second period, Sean Couturier got the Flyers within striking distance. He tipped in a Nick Seeler shot to cut the Flyers' deficit to 3-1.

But the Rangers (14-3-1) have been one of the NHL's top goal-prevention teams so far in Year 1 under former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. They finished the job.

The Flyers see New York three more times this season.

The listed attendance Friday afternoon was 19,032.

Last season, Rangers fans pretty much took over the Wells Fargo Center for a matchup in March.

"Hopefully along the way, we get this turned around. I'm not sure when," Tortorella said then. "But get it back to where that's a tough ticket. And maybe the Rangers fans just aren't allowed in the building because we have filled it with our people."

Many New York fans made the trip Friday, but it was not nearly as lopsided as that game in March last season.

• The Flyers could not afford a bad start and they had one.

They gave up a 2-on-1 only 45 seconds into the game. Zibanejad buried the shot. Carter Hart had little to no chance at stopping it.

Ryan Poehling got caught in between, which led to New York's odd-man rush.

"Just way too many odd-man rushes," Tortorella said. "It has really been a staple of our team this year, our discipline with that. And we were nowhere to be found with our backchecking."

One minute and eight seconds later, Travis Sanheim committed a defensive-zone turnover right to Chris Kreider in the slot.

"He's the best in the league at jumping off faceoffs," Sanheim said. "Maybe a little bit more awareness that it's him there and maybe be a little bit more patient and see where he's jumping, whether it's inside or outside."

The one-time 52-goal scorer quickly put the turnover past Hart for the 2-0 lead not even two minutes into the game.

"There's a forward there every time. If you guys watch the games, I make that play pretty well every game," Sanheim said. "I don't want to sit here and say that I shouldn't make that play because that's a play that I make regularly. He just makes a good read, he spins off and times it perfectly. Unfortunate it ends up in the back of the net.

"Obviously I'd like to have that one back, but I'm making that play every game. I'm going to continue to keep doing that."

Sanheim and Cam York, the Flyers' top defensive pair, each finished as a minus-2.

The first period quickly turned physical. Garnet Hathaway took a big hit from Jacob Trouba. The Flyers' winger then delivered one on Ryan Lindgren. Both hits led to fights. Hathaway's hit led to a Flyers power play, which went 0 for 6 in the game and is 7 for 68 on the season.

• Hart recorded 16 saves on 19 shots. He wasn't a problem for the Flyers; the team's start was its biggest issue and the power play didn't help, either.

"I think the first period, we talked about it in between periods, that we've never seen so many odd-man rushes come at us — 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s," Cam Atkinson said. "I think it was just because our D are anticipating the play, trying to surf and hoping that our forwards are covering for them. But the forwards were not, clearly. I think we were trying to cheat a little bit instead of erring on the more cautious side and supporting our D."

Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin stopped 36 of the Flyers' 37 shots.

The 2021-22 Vezina Trophy heard his name chanted by New York fans.

"We probably out-chance them, but their chances were glorious chances," Tortorella said. "That's basically where our tracking was nowhere to be found."

• Tortorella and the Flyers' video staff improved to 4 for 4 on coach's challenges this season when it had a Kreider shorthanded goal in the third period overturned for offside.

Noah Cates was not on the bench to start the third period. However, he was able to return to the bench and game.

The 24-year-old center needed around 30 stitches in the area of his upper lip after taking a puck to the face.

"I think they finished the stitches right as the third was starting," Cates said. "Went to get some water, kind of regroup and take a breath. I don't know when I got back out there, but basically as quickly as I could. [The medical team] did a great job."

Morgan Frost remained a healthy scratch. The 24-year-old center has sat for half of the season through 20 games.

• The Flyers are right back at it Saturday when they meet the Islanders at UBS Arena for the second time in four days (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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