NEW YORK (AP) — Alexandar Georgiev stopped 26 shots, Pavel Buchnevich and rookie Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and an assist, and the New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 Friday night for their fifth win in seven games.
Chris Kreider and Filip Chytil also scored and Artemi Panarin had two assists to help the Rangers bounce back one night after a 3-2 loss to the Flyers. New York pulled back six points behind Boston for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. The Rangers have eight games remaining while the Bruins have 10.
“It is just important to focus on the day-to-day, worrying about the things we can control,'' Kreider said. “I thought we defended better. I thought we were a lot more crisp throughout.”
Oskar Lindblom scored for Philadelphia and third-string goalie Alex Lyon finished with 20 saves.
Georgiev, who improved to 8-5-2 this season, has allowed two goals or fewer in five of seven career appearances against the Flyers, including one goal or fewer in four of those games. The Bulgarian-born goalie has won four of his last five appearances against Philadelphia including a 26-save shutout in a 9-0 win in his last appearance against Philadelphia on March 17 at home.
"We just played our game, didn't force anything,'' Georgiev said.
The Flyers continued their second-half swoon during the abbreviated 56-game season in which division rivals face each other eight times. Philadelphia was 11-4-3 after beating Buffalo on Feb. 28 but have gone 10-15-4 since to fall nearly out of the playoff race under former Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
“We had a lot of Grade-A opportunities to fight our way back into this game,'' Vigneault said. “Their goaltender was in the right place at the right time tonight.”
Kreider opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 6:02 of the first, sliding the puck past Lyon. It was Kreider’s 20th goal this season, marking the sixth time the veteran forward has reached that mark. It was also Kreider’s 11th power-play goal this season.
Panarin and Adam Fox registered assists on Kreider’s goal. It was the 100th assist as a Ranger for Panarin, who signed a free agent in July 2019. Panarin has points in eight of his last nine games against Philadelphia.
Lindblom tied it at 6:47 with his seventh goal, guiding the puck past Georgiev. Lindblom had just one point in his previous 14 games.
Buchnevich put the Rangers ahead 2-1 at 7:56 with his 20th, assisted by Mika Zibanejad and Lafreniere.
The teams played a scoreless second during which the Flyers had a golden opportunity to tie the contest when they had a two-man advantage for more than a minute late in the period. But the best save of the sequence belonged to Lyon, who denied Chytil on a breakaway just after the forward left the penalty box.
“It was a huge kill for us, the guys really stepped up,'' added Georgiev. “It was a long 5-on-3. I just tried to be in position for anything.”
Lafreniere made it 3-1 at 9:24 of the third for his ninth of the season. Buchnevich and Zibanejad assisted. Zibanejad has seven goals and 10 assists this season against the Flyers, including two six-point games. His performance another confidence boost for the 19-year-old Lafreniere, the first overall pick by the Rangers in last year's draft who is appreciating the opportunity to play with skilled line mates Zibanejad and Buchnevich.
The Rangers have are 12-2-0 in contests in which Lafreniere has a point this season, including an 8-1-0 record in games in which the young forward has scored.
“I’m just trying to learn every day at practice and get better,'' Lafreniere said. ”It's great for me to play with Mika and Buch. I think we are three players with great vision. We are moving the puck well. It’s a lot of fun playing with them."
Chytil completed the scoring with his eighth at 13:40, with assists to Kaapo Kakko and Panarin, who leads the Rangers with 55 points in 37 games.
The Rangers are 19-4-4 this season which Panarin has a point. The 29-year-old Russian forward has 98 points (35 goals, 63 assists) in 59 career games at Madison Square Garden, including 12 goals and 24 assists in 18 home games this season.
After beating the New Jersey Devils four straight times, the Rangers were coming off a 6-1 road loss to the Islanders on Tuesday and Thursday’s dispiriting 3-2 loss to the Flyers. The Flyers had won the last two meetings between the teams, including a 2-1 decision on March 27 at Philadelphia.
Rangers coach David Quinn said despite dwindling games on the schedule, his team’s focus would not ebb,
“We know the task in front of us,″ Quinn said. ”We have to continue to approach each night the right way and we have a chance to win.”
Friday’s game was the 308th all-time contest between the Rangers and Flyers and the first time in their history they played games on back-to-back days in the same city. And according to NHL Stats and Information, New York played two consecutive games regular-season games against the same opponent at the Garden on back-to-back days for the first time in franchise history, which dates back to 1926.
Fox's assist gave him 43 points (5 goals, 38 assists) in 47 games this season, surpassing his rookie season points total of 42 points in 70 games. His 38 assists leads all NHL defensemen and the 23-year-old had 10 points – all assists – against the Flyers this season.
Flyers: Host New Jersey on Sunday in first of four straight against the Devils.
Rangers: Host Buffalo on Sunday in first of two straight at Madison Square Garden.