Two goals from Mike Rupp and the game-winner from free-agent prize Brad Richards erased a slow-start for the New York Rangers Monday afternoon in the 5th annual Winter Classic, as the Blueshirts defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2.
The Flyers broke a scoreless tie midway through the second period with two quick goals by Brayden Schenn — his first in the NHL — and Claude Giroux before 48,000 at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia.
But just 30 seconds after Giroux’s tally, Rupp got the Blueshirts on the board with a low wrist-shot that beat Sergei Bobrovsky to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Early in the third, Rupp struck again with a wrist-shot from the circle that squeaked by Bobrovsky to tie the game at 2.
“It was a whole team effort, and I just got to shoot the puck twice and it went in,” said Rupp, who was awarded the Broadway Hat. “It was a great experience and feels great to win this one. It had that feeling of [a Game Seven], but at the same time you don’t want to get too caught up in it because it wasn’t a Game Seven. It was a fun, cool thing to be a part of, but it was two points and we can’t let our heads get too big.”
The two points stretched the Rangers’ lead atop the Atlantic Division to four points over the Flyers.
Three minutes after Rupp tied the game, Richards gave the Rangers the lead for good when he buried a rebound off a soft-shot by Brandon Dubinsky that Bobrovsky steered right onto Richards’ stick.
Marc Staal made his season debut in the game after missing the first three months of the season recovering from a concussion he suffered last February. He skated with Stu Bickel on the third pair and finished with a plus-1 rating in 12:41.
“I felt all right, I didn’t play all that much,” Staal said. He added he didn’t think he would be able to play in the game, but was given clearance by Dr. Robert Cantu.
“I did a lot of thinking,” he said. “My stomach started churning.”
Late in the game, the Rangers found themselves short-handed after Ryan McDonagh was pushed into the net by James van Riemsdyk, leading to a delay of game penalty. After the successful penalty kill, Ryan Callahan and Kimmo Timonen were given offsetting minors, with Callahan being called for a holding the stick.
McDonagh found himself in hot water again following questionable closing his hand on the puck while in the crease call, which led to a Danny Briere penalty. Henrik Lundqvist stopped the shot, leading to the 3-2 victory.
After the game, Rangers General Manager Glen Sather expressed his distaste over the calls. “I didn’t think the game would come down to that situation,” Sather said. “You see three or four calls that are enough to blow your mind…Look at all of it.”
Head coach John Tortorella called the officiating “disgusting.”
Next up for the Rangers is the Florida Panthers on Thursday morning at Madison Square Garden, followed by a matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh Friday night.