Game 20: Rangers Blank Flyers for Second Straight Win

The Rangers Saturday looked to stars and rookies- and Brandon Prust‘s fists- to overpower a very potent Philadelphia Flyers squad en route to 2-0 victory at Madison Square Garden.

New York opened up a 1-0 lead early in the second period on an off-speed slap-shot by Brad Richards. The goal came moments after a goal believed to be by Richards was waved off when it was determined Ryan Callahan swiped the puck into the goal with his glove.

Early in the third period, rookie Carl Hagelin put a rebound on net that Sergei Bobrovsky had trouble with. Hagelin buried the second rebound to give the Rangers the two-goal lead they would not relinquish.

“He’s not only fast but he’s playing smart,” said head coach John Tortorella of the former captain at the University of Michigan. “He puts himself in great spots in getting to pucks and is doing the right things because of his legs. Mitch has lonesome really good things on the wall. It’s been seamless in the first two games.”

Hagelin, 23, along with John Mitchell, were called up on Thanksgiving and both have two-game point streaks.

“I don’t know if its a relief,” said Hagelin, who was given the Broadway Hat after the game. “Whether I score or not…I just have to make sure I’m doing the right things. Today, I got a lucky bounce and it went in.”

Prust set the tone early, dropping the gloves with Zac Rinaldo just four seconds in the game. He would also fight Wayne Simmonds midway through the first period.

“He has balls as big as the building, doesn’t he?” Tortorella said of Prust. “He set the tone. Pruster, he’s been in and out as far as my trust in his game. I think his game is beginning to come back. Today, I thought he stood tall and set the tone right away.”

Prust said he asked Rinaldo if he wanted to start the match with a scrum. “We should probably start this with a tilt, eh?” Prust said he said to the Flyer. “He said sure.”

Henrik Lundqvist, although not tested too much in terms of scoring chances, finished with 29 saves for his second shutout of the season (37th of his career). The Rangers are now 12-5-3 (27 points).

Thanks to Prust and his fisticuffs, the game felt like a playoff match on TV, and Richards said it felt close to that on the ice. “It felt not quite like the playoffs, but somewhere in between,” he said. “We were amped up to another level with the crowd and the way it started with Prusty.”

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

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