Winter Classic Recap

Yesterday was the fifth incarnation of the NHL Winter Classic. And this could have been one of the best between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Entering the game, both teams were separated by two points in the Eastern conference. The league could not have asked for a better pairing between rival teams that are also among the best in the league. Throw in the drama of the HBO 24/7 series for the second time and you have the makings for what was a great game.

Entering the game was the questionable goal by Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette to start Sergei Bobrovsky instead of Ilya Bryzgalov. While both players are solid in their own right, it was Bryzgalov who played the most entering the contest.

The players and teams did not disappoint the 46,967 who attended the game. Most of the crowd was pro-Philadelphia and they were loud and rowdy near the midway point of the game when the first goal of the game was scored by Brayden Schenn when he found the back of the net off a rebound from Matt Carle. Schenn’s first career NHL goal came at 12:26 of the middle period. The Flyers soon took a multi-goal advantage 1:55 later when Claude Giroux scored his 18th goal of the reason. He tied Henrik Sedin for the NHL lead with the lamplighter and was assisted by Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot.

The lead didn’t last long as the Rangers were able to storm back with wrist shot goals from Mike Rupp. Rupp wishes every game was played outdoors as he scored twice in the annual NHL showcase and one time this season coming into the game. The first goal Rupp scored came when he took a pass from Brandon Prust near the player benches, skated into the zone fired a shot from between the circles that beat Bobrovsky with 5:09 to play in the period.

Rupp was gutsy to celebrate with a salute after the goal- something opponent Jaromir Jagr has done throughout his career as well as this season. Jagr didn’t see much ice time in the Winter Classic for unexplained reasons. In the first two periods he played two shifts for a total of 68 seconds.

The second goal occurred when Rupp took a wrist shot near the goal line and was able to sneak it between the hip of Bobrovsky and the goal post. The goal that tied the game came at 2:41 of the third period.

The goal that turned out to be the game winner was scored by Brad Richards at 5:21 of the third period. Happened to be at the right place at the right time, Bobrovsky made the mistake of directing a Brandon Dubinsky rebound into the slot as a streaking Richards was approaching the net. Also assisting on the goal was Ryan Callahan.

The biggest save of the match came in the final minute when Henrik Lundqvist turned away a Danny Briere penalty shot with 19 seconds left. The penalty shot came when a Rangers player appeared to cover the puck inside the goal crease with his hand. The save by Lundqvist was his 33rd of the game. Bobrovsky made 30 saves in the losing effort.

The win by the Rangers gives the away team a 4-1 record in the Winter Classic. Ironically, the only home team to win was the Boston Bruins in 2010. They defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park.

Check out the finale of 24/7: Flyers- Rangers Wednesday night at 10:00 p.m. EST on HBO.

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