PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It might not have been a work of art, but any kind of win felt beautiful to the New York Rangers.
Kaapo Kakko and Artemi Panarin scored in the shootout to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Colin Blackwell and Brendan Smith scored in regulation for New York, which snapped a four-game skid.
“This has been a tough go,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “Losing can wear on you. I don’t care how pretty it looked, we needed two points and we got two points. Maybe this wasn’t a Picasso. … But we competed and battled and willed our way to a win.”
Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Joel Farabee scored for the Flyers, who were playing for the first time since Feb. 7 because of COVID-19. Philadelphia was without six players who are still in the COVID-19 health and safety protocol, including captain Claude Giroux, whose streak of playing in 328 consecutive games ended.
Sean Couturier had Philadelphia’s lone goal in the shootout.
“I really liked the way we competed,” Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneualt said. “We tried to play a simple, north-south game. We battled hard tonight.”
Smith put New York up 2-1 on his first goal of the season with 11:39 left. Panarin, back from two-game absence due to a lower-body injury, set up the goal with a cross-crease pass to a wide-open Smith.
“We talked about getting pucks to the net, and a lot of times we get pucks to the net good things happen,” Smith said, adding of the win: “We really needed that.”
With goalie Carter Hart pulled for an extra skater, Philadelphia tied it with 1:14 left in regulation on Farabee’s seventh of the season. Ivan Provorov shot the puck off the back boards, and Kevin Hayes deflected it toward the net to Farabee, who poked it home.
Philadelphia, which had four games postponed, had just one practice and Thursday morning’s skate since its last action.
But the Flyers came out sharp in the first period.
Aube-Kubel gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead 59 seconds into the game when he batted home the puck after a scramble in front.
The Rangers nearly tied it on the power play with 45 seconds left in the first, but Panarin’s slap shot clanged off the post.
Blackwell evened it 3:24 into the second period on the power play on a deflection of Pavel Buchnevich’s shot. The Rangers had a great chance to take the lead with 3:19 left in the period, but Hart stopped Buchnevich’s penalty shot after Buchnevich was hooked by Provorov on a breakaway attempt.
FLYERS ON ICE
In addition to Giroux, forwards Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom and Jakub Voracek and defenseman Justin Braun were out. None of the six will make the trip to Lake Tahoe on Sunday for Philadelphia’s outdoor game against Boston.
It was the first time since March 1, 2009, that neither Giroux nor Voracek was in the Flyers’ lineup.
RANGERS ON ICE
D Jacob Trouba (broken thumb) missed the first game of what is expected to be a four-week absence. D K’Andre Miller (upper body) sat for the second straight game.
Because of a winter storm that hit Philadelphia on Thursday and difficult road conditions, the Flyers did their daily COVID-19 testing in two locations on Thursday morning. Players living in and around Philadelphia got tested at the team’s home arena while those residing in New Jersey got it done at the team’s practice facility in that state.
Rangers: At Washington on Saturday night.
Flyers: Play Boston at Lake Tahoe on Sunday. The NHL moved the start of the game up an hour to 2 p.m. Eastern.
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