Gagne’s Hat-Trick Helps Destroy Rangers

When coach Peter Laviolette told the media and his team that he doesn’t want anyone thinking about the Winter Classic to only focus on the Rangers, he meant it.

The team themselves, got it. The Philadelphia Flyers dominated the New York Rangers last night by blanking them 6-0.

There wasn’t one point of the game where someone could say the Rangers were better. Not a chance. The Flyers played last night the way everyone expects them to every game.

Simon Gagne compiled his second of three career hat-tricks last night and added a helper, and the Flyers stretched their winning streak to four games as they can now prepare for the Winter Classic.

“We knew before the Winter Classic that this game was almost more important,” Gagne said. “For us to come here and beat them 6-0 after they beat us in our building, that’s a good feeling.”
Things began looking good early for the Flyers when Blair Betts knocked a rebound past Henrik Lundqvist 54 seconds into the game. From then on, the game was controlled by Philadelphia.

The Flyers were locked in after Betts’ tally. Danny Briere scored at the 11:51 mark on a beautiful deke that had Lundqvist completely off-balance to make it 2-0. Less than two minutes later Claude Giroux grabbed a nice pass from captain Mike Richards and roped it past Lundqvist to make it 3-0 at the end of one.

“We remember what happened a couple of weeks ago,” Briere said. “These guys played well in our building, and we owed it to them. That’s the mentality we came into this game with. We don’t want to stop. We just want to keep it going.”

Surprisingly, Lundqvist was pulled and did not return for the second period.

On the other end, Michael Leighton continued his stellar shut-down play recording his fourth career shutout stopping all 22 shots that were thrown his way. At this point, its really hard to not start Leighton tomorrow for the Winter Classic, he has almost been the main catalyst for the Flyers recent turnaround. Scoring helps to.

“It feels good,” Leighton said. “Obviously the shutout was just a bonus, but we played a great game tonight, and that’s what counts.”

“I haven’t gotten this opportunity in the NHL in a long time…Right now, I’m feeling pretty good, and the team’s playing well in front of me, added Leighton. “If we keep winning games things are going to keep going well for us.”

From the second period on, Gagne was in an Empire Sate of mind and it was his show.

New Ranger goalie Chad Johnson, not Ocho Cinco, was just settling in between the pipes until Gagne roofed one by him just 23 seconds into the second. Gagne, stole the puck from Brandon Dubinsky along the right-side boards and story goes from there.

“Obviously, coming out for that second period being up 3-0, we wanted to destroy quick and make sure we stayed aggressive and on the offense, and we got a goal coming out of that first shift, and that was a boost for us… and we just kind of kept up from there,” said Gagne.

Gagne scored his second goal at 14:41 on the power-play by a perfect feed from Briere. He completed his hat-trick at 11:30 in the third after Giroux made an amazing cross-ice pass to Gagne’s stick where he tapped it pass Johnson.

“Sure, when you score three goals, it’s helping the confidence as a player,” Gagne said. “But it’s only my sixth game back from the surgery…It’s hard, those guys got maybe one step quicker than I do on the ice – they’ve been playing for three months and I was sitting for two months.

Gagne has seven points (4G, 3A) in six games since returning from abdominal surgery. He has shown how much his presence means to this lineup game in and game out.

Laviolette was happy with his teams overall performance last night, and can now set his sights on the excitement that’s ahead for tomorrow’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

“I think the players know exactly where we are and how important the game was tonight, and they did a good job of being accountable to the game,” said coach Laviolette.

It looks as if the forecaster up in Boston have shockingly changed their prediction on tomorrow’s weather situation for the game. A mix of rain/snow seem to be the new weather pattern their calling for.

Weather.com is reporting a 70% chance of snow fall tomorrow morning that will diminish to small snow showers throughout the afternoon. Temperatures should reach a high of 38 degrees.

Richards also added two assists last night and has registered six points in his last four games (3G, 3A)…Briere has five points in his last three games and has scored a goal in three straight.

Quotes: CSNPhilly

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