The puck is dropped to start the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

The electric atmosphere was something special, some beat writers saying it was better than that of Game 6 of the SC Finals two years ago.  The ceremonial puck drop by a USA Staff Sgt. joined by “USA” chants, along with the jets flying over Citizens Bank Park got everyone pumped up.  A battle for first in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. Flyers versus Rangers.  Once the puck dropped, it became any other hockey game.  Just another Philadelphia vs. New York great hockey game.

The 1st period started out with not many chances from either team, but very fast pace.  Blocked shots were the key in the first half of the period. There was just one major chance, in which Lundqvist turned aside a Claude Giroux breakaway with a stick save.  It didn’t stay that way for long though.  Lundqvist took over though, making several key saves to keep the Flyers off the board.  With 7:25 left, he stopped a Kimmo Timonen blast from the slot with a beautiful glove save.  Then, with a few minutes remaining, Jagr broke through center ice with tons of speed, but “King Henrik” closed the five-hole and stopped his breakaway.

The Flyers did a good job getting pucks on the Rangers netminder, but the Rangers D did a better job of clearing rebounds and not allowing the Flyers to get set up in the zone.  New York blocked seven shots in the first period.

In a 2nd period full of chances, the Flyers got out to an early 2-0 lead, one goal after another.  The first one came with 7:34 left.  Schenn, in what was his best NHL game so far without a doubt, won the face-off and went straight to the net.  Matt Carle chased down the puck and threw it on net.  Lundqvist got in front of it, but it changed directions on him.  The puck bounced off his pads and went right to Brayden Schenn, who netted it for his first career goal.  This goal opened up the defensive-battled game, as just 2 minutes later, Claude Giroux made it 2-0 after taking a great pass from Talbot.  His goal was quickly matched though, as Mike Rupp came through for the Rangers not even 30 seconds after the last goal.  Mike Rupp had the puck right in the slot, and took advantage of Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros being right between him and Bobrovsky.  His wrist shot goal was followed up by a Jagr-like salute.

The game opened up big time since the start, when it was mainly a defensive battle.  The shots were 26-17 at the end of the period.  In the midst of a flurry of goals, it only seemed fitting that flurries of snow started to fall in Philadelphia as well.

The Flyers went into the 3rd period looking good, but the Rangers were surprisingly the first ones to strike.  Rupp took a pass from Brandon Prust and went up the left side of the rink.  Sergei Bobrovsky went down and exposed an opening just above his shoulder.  Rupp fired it on net, and it deflected off of Bobrovsky’s right arm and went in.  It was a weak goal for him to let in, considering how well he was playing.  The tie lasted less than three minutes, and somehow, the Flyers defense must have forgot about Brad Richards.  As Dubinsky was taking several shots from in tight, Brad Richards snuck in from the other side and took a rebound and did what he does best. This gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead with 14:39 left.

With less than 4:00 left in the game, the Flyers had a huge chance on the powerplay, but were unable to convert.  They kept up the pressure, pulling their goalie with 1:13 left, but not long after they did, Ryan Callahan broke free for a second.  Timonen, knowing the situation, clearly interfered with him to stop the play.  There was a twist to it though: Callahan was called for holding the stick, and it was a 4-on-4.  The Flyers won the face-off and went up ice, pulling Bobrovsky immediately.  The Flyers had an unbelievable chance, and as the puck was trickling into the net behind Lundqvist, one Rangers player put his hand on top of it, and the Flyers got a penalty shot. Briere took it, but Lundqvist stopped him with ease.  Even after, Philadelphia had a couple more chances but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Final: Rangers 3, Flyers 2.

The clear difference makers in this game were Henrik Lundqvist and Mike Rupp.  The Flyers had so many chances, especially at the end, but Lundqvist stayed strong and the Flyers couldn’t beat him.  Of course you need goals at the other end too, and that’s where Rupp came in, as he netted two to lead his team to victory.

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