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Rangers rally to beat Flyers 3-2 in Winter Classic
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Mike Rupp scored two goals and Brad Richards posted the winner on top of a chilly baseball field, as the New York Rangers outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, in the Winter Classic on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
Playing on a rink that stretched from first base to third base, the Rangers made the league’s fifth Classic event a memorable one, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to stay atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The NHL surrounded the rink with Christmas trees, fire wood, fake snow, and even trash-can fires. But there was nothing artificial in the elements with snow flurries late in the second period and temperatures that dipped into the 30s, forcing 49,967 fans to bundle up for the big game.
While this game meant two points in the standings, like the four other NHL games set for Monday night, it received the kind of hype normally reserved for the Stanley Cup finals. NBC televised the game and HBO had 12 camera crews filming the game and behind-the-scenes action for its “24/7” series.
One of the breakout stars of the show was benched.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year, $51 million contract in June, saw a recent slump send him to the bench. Sergei Bobrovsky got the call from coach Peter Laviolette and failed to hold the early lead built in front of a decidedly orange-and-black crowd.
The Flyers ended the game without star forward Jaromir Jagr, who played only a minute in the second period before leaving the game for good. The Flyers did not say what was wrong with the 39-year-old star, though he pointed to his back as he sat on the bench.
Even with Jagr out, his presence was noted.
Rupp’s first goal late in the second came with a salute toward the Flyers‘ bench _ the same move Jagr makes for the home crowd after one of his goals. Rupp smiled as his teammates mobbed him along the boards and the crowd booed his attempt at showing-up Jagr.
Rupp, who scored the winning goal for New Jersey in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals against Anaheim, delivered another clutch goal on the big stage when his wrister from the circle shot under Bobrovsky’s right arm and tied the game at 2.
By John R. Bolton
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