NEW YORK (AP) — Sean Avery returned from a one-game benching and scored twice to help the New York Rangers earn a key 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
Avery sat out New York's win at Atlanta on Friday, but returned to the lineup and raised his agitating style to the level coach John Tortorella demanded. He got the Rangers even in the second period and drew three Philadelphia penalties, including two resulting in power plays.
Michal Rozsival netted the go-ahead goal in the second period as the Rangers climbed within one point of eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New York also shelved urges to retaliate against Dan Carcillo, who fought star forward Marian Gaborik in the teams' previous meeting on Jan. 21 and drew the Rangers' ire.
Avery gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead with 5:54 remaining when his unscreened shot somehow eluded Michael Leighton's glove and left the goalie hanging his head. Henrik Lundqvist needed to make only 17 saves for the win. New York recorded 21 shots on Leighton.
Danny Briere scored his 24th goal 4:13 in for Philadelphia, which couldn't build off its stirring home win in the final seconds against Chicago on Saturday. The Flyers then endured a 7-hour train ride through a strong storm and didn't arrive in New York until after midnight.
After recording only four shots in an uninspiring first period, the Rangers took over early in the second.
Avery responded to Tortorella's charge that he be more engaging and scored his ninth at 1:53. Wade Redden's shot bounced off Leighton's pad, and Avery charged in and swept in a backhand to make it 1-1.
New York received only one power play in the first and failed to record a shot. The Rangers made the most of their second when Rozsival fired a shot in off the left post at 4:54.
The physical play and animosity expected in this game showed up in the second. Avery and Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger were whistled for penalties at 2:09 following a scrum that was sparked by Avery's crunching hit on Matt Carle.
Avery then goaded Scott Hartnell into a roughing penalty with 2:30 left in the period. Hartnell grabbed hold of Avery and kept yanking him as Avery turned away. As Hartnell went to the penalty box, Avery yapped at Flyers captain Mike Richards from the bench. Richards skated away, shaking his head.
New York received another power play earlier in the period when James van Riemsdyk crashed into Lundqvist while charging the net. Lundqvist was bowled over and lost his mask in the pileup. When he got up, he and teammate Brandon Dubinsky's checked the goalie's head for blood.
Hartnell, also a known agitator, took a punishing shift in the offensive zone several minutes before his run-in with Avery. Hartnell was repeatedly knocked to the ice. He finally worked his way to the bench, hunched over at the waist likely from exhaustion and pain. Hartnell skipped a few shifts before returning.
Avery drew an interference call against Braydon Coburn early in the third and exchanged shoves with Carcillo.
NOTES: The Flyers began a four-game road trip. ... New York had gone 177 minutes, 7 seconds without scoring against Philadelphia. The Flyers posted wins of 2-0 and 6-0 in the previous two meetings. They opened the season series with a 2-1 home win on Dec. 19. ... Flyers enforcer Riley Cote played for the first time since Dec. 21. He was scratched for 32 games since.
(This version CORRECTS Rangers 3, Flyers 1. corrects to 17 saves in 4th graf to reflect official scoring change)