Tarasenko scores winner in OT, leads Rangers past Flyers 3-2
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Patrick Kane has an NBA star wearing his new jersey, his new teammates buzzing over his upcoming debut and a Stanley Cup to chase in New York.
The Rangers gave Kane a winning welcome in the warm-up to his anticipated arrival.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored the winner 2:32 into overtime, and had assists on goals by Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider to lead the New York Rangers past the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Wednesday night.
“Just shows that guys are here to win,” Tarasenko said.
The Rangers won their final game before Kane, acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, makes his debut for the team on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson wore a No. 88 Kane jersey into MSG before Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn. The Rangers could have sold a few more in Philly -- Blueshirts took over the lower bowl of the Wells Fargo Center and had a healthy and vocal presence overall inside the arena.
Flyers fans were thwarted in their attempt to drown out the “Let's Go Rangers!” chants that echoed throughout the arena. Rangers fans erupted when Kreider tied the score with 9:27 left in the game.
Wait until they get to cheer for Kane.
The arrival of the three-time Stanley Cup champion boosted the Rangers to immediate Stanley Cup contender status.
"I think everyone in this room believes it is possible,” Rangers forward Tyler Motte said.
Owen Tippett and Scott Laughton scored for the Flyers. Carter Hart had 22 saves.
“I saw some really good things with the guys tonight,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “I saw some things where I'm not sure where it's at.”
Igor Shesterkin stopped 25 shots for the Rangers.
Motte briefly played with Kane in Chicago but it’s another Blackhawks transplant in New York that truly made the trade exciting for the Rangers. The 34-year-old Kane was reunited with former teammate Artemi Panarin. Kane enjoyed playing with Panarin for two seasons at the beginning of the Russian forward's NHL career, one reason why the newest Ranger waived the no-movement clause in his contract.
The Rangers already made one splash before the deadline when they acquired Tarasenko from St. Louis last month. He pounded his 13th goal of the season — and third with New York — past Hart midway through OT.
Tarasenko scored his 11th career overtime goal and first since Feb. 10, 2019 .
“I feel like the more I hang out around the guys, the more I talk with them, the more I understand what’s going on on the ice, where is everybody going, I’ll feel more comfortable over there,” he said.
The additions of Tarasenko and Kane showed the players the front office has confidence the team could be on the brink of a special season.
“I think it just goes to show the belief that, not only the guys in this room, but the organization has in us,” Motte said. “It gives us all a lot of confidence for the push for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. Adding big names is going to open some eyes. I think it just continues to build the confidence in the room."
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of the mood in the locker room now, “it definitely feels different.”
The Flyers are well out of the playoff race and will be sellers leading into Friday’s deadline. Philadelphia, though, did not hold out any players as a precaution — or as a precursor to a potential deal.
Tortorella has cautioned it could take years before the team is a contender again and willing to deal for big names at the deadline.
“Hopefully, along the way we get this turned around,” he said. “Not sure when.”
Hey, at least in Philly, Flyers fans are used to the wait.
THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!
Kane scored the biggest goal of his NHL career in Philly, an overtime winner in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, ending Chicago’s 49-year title drought.
Rangers: Host Ottawa on Thursday night.
Flyers: Host Detroit on Sunday. ___ AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Dan Gelston, The Associated Press