Looking at the box score of tonight's game against the New York Rangers, you'd think it was basically the same deal -- the Flyers came out slow and New York pounced on the opportunity. They scored four goals in the first period and that ultimately led them to a 5-3 victory, sealing the season sweep over the Flyers for just the second time ever.
But complete domination off the opening faceoff was not what happened for the Rangers tonight. The Flyers actually controlled things quite well for the first several minutes of the hockey game, generating chances and putting plenty of pucks on Henrik Lundqvist.
As has been the theme for many a hockey game this season between these two clubs, however, Lundqvist stood tall, denying the Flyers at every chance. They were able to put three pucks past him over the course of 60 minutes, and they probably deserved more goals than that, but he's not the best goaltender in the NHL for nothing, and it's safe to say he won yet another game for his team tonight.
The New York defense wasn't particularly strong tonight, but they were certainly stronger than the Philadelphia unit, which may have not even shown up for work in front of the newly-semi-healthy Ilya Bryzgalov. The Flyers ultimately put in what's become their typical comeback effort, but against a goaltender like Lundqvist and a team like New York, it's not going to work out most of the time.
Getting behind early -- whether it results in a win or a loss -- is a serious concern for this team as they enter the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs. It might work in the first 82 games, but once the playoffs come, it might wind up just like tonight: Swept out of the series.
With the loss and Pittsburgh's 5-3 win over Boston, the Flyers trail the Penguins by three points in the race for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference and home ice in their inevitable first-round playoff series.