Rick Nash snapped a third-period tie and then added an insurance goal as the New York Rangers held on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Tuesday night for their third win in a row.
Nash fired a shot that sneaked under the right arm of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov 2:50 into the third to give New York its second lead of the game. He doubled the advantage to 4-2 with 8:18 left, fighting off a hook on his hands by defenseman Kimmo Timonen and then making a shift from backhand to forehand to score his seventh goal — all in third periods.
It is the second time this season the Rangers have won three straight, and this one vaulted them ahead of Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New York has played three fewer games than the Flyers, who began the night in eighth place and had a two-game winning streak snapped.
Ryan Callahan scored two first-period goals and assisted on Nash's second, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves for the Rangers, who played without Brad Richards. The star center sat out two nights after he was checked from behind into the boards by Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta.
New York then lost key defenseman Marc Staal 5:45 into the third when a shot by Timonen from the blue line clipped the stick of forward Jake Voracek and caromed up into Staal's right eye, causing a cut. Staal, who wasn't wearing a visor, squirmed on the ice and held his face before skating off.
Wayne Simmonds and Voracek both scored power-play goals in the first period for Philadelphia. Bryzgalov stopped 16 shots.
The Rangers came out quickly and had a good scoring chance less than two minutes in. It didn't produce a goal, but New York drew a holding penalty against Timonen at 1:09 and needed only 21 seconds to grab the lead.
Derek Stepan sent a pass left-to-right across the Philadelphia zone past defenseman Nicklas Grossmann over to Callahan, who settled the puck in the right circle and put it past Bryzgalov.
The Flyers made the most of their first advantage after New York forward Stu Bickel was sent off for elbowing at 6:50.
After Callahan couldn't get the puck out of the Rangers' end with a full-out lunge at the blue line, Voracek sent the puck across the zone to his left to Claude Giroux, who quickly found Simmonds down low alone at the right post for an easy tip-in at 7:18 for his 10th goal.
Philadelphia struck again after Callahan was called for hooking at 16:53 and argued his case all the way to the penalty box.
Simmons was in the middle of the action again, sending a pass from the goal out to the slot to Voracek, who kicked the puck onto his stick and let go a quick shot that Lundqvist blocked. But the rebound came right back to Voracek, who was able to find an opening this time and scored his 10th of the season with 2:53 left in the first.
The Madison Square Garden crowd seemed settled in and resigned to the face that the Rangers would be trailing at the first intermission, but Callahan provided another jolt in the closing seconds of the period.
Ryan McDonagh forced a Philadelphia turnover in the neutral zone and sent a pass up to Callahan, who raced into the Flyers zone along the left-wing boards. As he darted toward the net, Philadelphia defenseman Luke Schenn sprawled down on the ice in front of him. Callahan calmly skated around him, drove in on Bryzgalov and jammed a shot in from the crease with only 40.6 seconds to go for his seventh of the season.
Callahan unleashed an emphatic fist pump and a yell to celebrate his goal.
The teams combined for 14 shots in the first — eight by the Rangers — and scored four times. There were only a handful of good scoring chances in the second period when each team had six shots.
Scott Hartnell was alone in the slot when he wound up for a hard slap shot that Lundqvist turned aside. The Flyers also threatened with Danny Briere and Simmonds in tight on Lundqvist, but the puck stayed out of the net.