Konecny-less Flyers flirt with upset but fall to Rangers

Konecny-less Flyers flirt with upset but fall to Rangers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Flyers sorely missed Travis Konecny in a 2-1 loss Saturday afternoon to the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.

John Tortorella's club was commendably competitive against one of the top teams in the NHL. But without its all-situation leading scorer, its offense lacked finish.

Konecny was out for the first time this season because of an upper-body injury. He left Friday's practice in discomfort. More on his status here.

The Flyers (30-21-7) dropped to 5-2-1 since the bye week and All-Star break.

Tyson Foerster scored the team's lone goal Saturday. The Flyers went on a power play with 4:03 minutes remaining in the game but failed to convert.

With the Flyers' net emptied, Sean Couturier nearly tied the game in the final six seconds. His backhanded shot from in close drew iron.

The Flyers' lead over the Devils in the Metropolitan Division race was trimmed to five points. New Jersey beat the Canadiens, 4-3, Saturday afternoon. The Devils have played one fewer game than the Flyers and come to Philadelphia in April for a final head-to-head matchup.

New York, 14 points up on the Flyers, has won 10 straight.

The Flyers are 0-2-0 against the Rangers (39-16-3) in their regular-season series. The clubs have two matchups left, both at Madison Square Garden.

With Konecny, this was a measuring stick game for the Flyers. Without Konecny, it was a tall, tall order.

"We played hard," Tortorella said. "I know we played a good game tonight."

Since 2021-22, the Flyers have lost eight of their last nine meetings with New York (1-6-2) and been outscored 29-13.

To no surprise, blue Rangers jerseys permeated the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. Last season, New York fans flooded Philadelphia for a game in March. Tortorella said "blame us," that the organization needed to make home games "a tough ticket" again.

The listed attendance Saturday was 19,756.

With the team's progress, has Tortorella sensed Flyers fans getting back on board?

"I want to get us to the place — and we're not there — where it's a tough building to come in and play," the head coach said Friday after practice. "I think that's one of the things we have not totally grabbed ahold of this year in our development, is the home ice. I think sometimes it's harder to play on home ice than on the road.

"But I want the building to be that way. I sense it, you can feel it come games. But I want that to be a given, that people are talking, 'Oh, that's a tough place to go into.' And the fans are a big part of that. I think we're on the right rails to get there; we still have a ways to go."

• The Flyers came out with a great push in the third period, needing just 2:36 minutes to tie the game.

Scott Laughton extended his point streak to six games (two goals, five assists) with a wraparound pass to Foerster.

But under four minutes later, the Rangers regained their lead. Matt Rempe got a piece of a Barclay Goodrow redirection for his first career NHL goal.

"Guys battled hard for each other," Laughton said. "Take a lot of positives out of it."

Samuel Ersson registered 22 saves on 24 shots.

The 24-year-old was screened by the 6-foot-7 Rempe on New York's game-winner.

The Flyers got after Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin, who stopped 39 of 40 shots.

The 2021-22 Vezina Trophy winner heard his first name chanted after making a clutch save on a Travis Sanheim shorthanded breakaway. The Flyers were down 2-1 in the third period and threatening with their dangerous penalty kill.

"Igor played great for them and came up with a lot of big saves," Ersson said. "It's a tight game. As a goalie, you know it'll come down to one goal, one bounce here and there, so you get a little bit frustrated when you don't come up with that one extra [save]."

In the second period, with New York on a four-minute power play because of a Garnet Hathaway high-sticking penalty, Laughton came close to giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead when he rung the post.

On that power play, Ersson denied Alexis Lafreniere with a stellar split save. But when the action went to 4-on-4, Lafreniere beat Ersson with a shot from the circle.

Nicolas Deslauriers and Rempe dropped the gloves on the big rookie's first shift of the game.

"I saw him kind of lurking in the warmup and I'm a guy that doesn't take no for an answer often," Deslauriers said. "I just went politely and said, 'We going to do this?' That's how it is."

Talk about a heavyweight bout. The fight was one that would make the Broad Street Bullies smile.

"He's a really important guy for us," Tortorella said of Deslauriers. "That's a good, old-fashioned hockey fight there."

Once the punches finally settled, Deslauriers played to the crowd, which was fired up only three minutes into the action.

"I told a couple of guys after, 'That's the loudest I've ever heard,'" Deslauriers said. "Because during the fights, you don't hear much. But after, it was fun."

Ersson enjoyed watching Deslauriers go to work.

"He's an absolute animal, a warrior for us out there," Ersson said. "I wouldn't want to fight him. You could feel the atmosphere in the building and, for us as a team, it just provides us with so much energy."

• After missing the last four games because of a right foot injury, Foerster returned to the lineup.

The rookie winger made his presence felt with his game-tying goal and four shots.

Because of Konecny's absence, the Flyers had to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

• The Flyers are right back at it Sunday when they visit the Penguins (3:30 p.m. ET/TNT).

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