Flyers push winning streak to six games, eye possible Metro title

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The Flyers improved their winning streak to a season-best six games on Sunday, beating the Rangers in a home-and-home series. After an emphatic 5-2 win on Friday, the Flyers took care of the Rangers 5-3 on Sunday.

After falling behind 5-1, the Rangers made a late game of things, but the Flyers were in control of most of the contest.

Philly is suddenly seeing all sorts of possibilities open up with this hot stretch. In improving to 15-4-1 in their last 20 games, they’ve progressed from merely trying to make the playoffs to loftier dreams.

Flyers now on a season-best winning streak of six games, have a chance at Metro title

With the Penguins mired in a six-game losing streak (their worst stretch in more than a decade), the Flyers stand a real chance of earning some home-ice advantage. Actually, Philly’s ambitions don’t need to end there.

If things fall the right way, the Flyers could conceivably grab the Metropolitan Division title. They can’t rest on their laurels, though, as the Metro battles look tight:

Metro 1 – Capitals: 84 points in 64 games played (39-19-6)
Metro 2 – Flyers: 83 points in 65 GP (38-20-7)
Metro 3 – Penguins: 80 points in 64 GP (37-21-6)

Wild card 1 – Islanders: 78 points in 64 GP (35-21-8)

Philly’s power play put Sunday’s game out of reach. They operated with speed, too, scoring 29, 33, and five seconds into man advantages. Special teams was indeed special for the Flyers on Sunday, at least before they took their foot off the gas. Derek Grant scored the game’s lone even-strength goal.

Carter Hart looked pretty good in gaining just his fourth road win of 2019-20. (More on that strange disparity of home vs. road work here.)

Five different Flyers scored goals on Sunday, showing off the team’s improved depth. Jakub Voracek dealt a lot of the damage, collecting two points to give him six in these past two contests vs. the Rangers. The Flyers have scored at least four goals in every contest of this six-game winning streak.

The Flyers face a fascinating test in the Metro-leading Capitals on Wednesday, with coverage on NBCSN.

Tough times for Rangers, and a rough afternoon for Henrik Lundqvist

With Igor Shesterkin injured, the Rangers will need to call upon Henrik Lundqvist here and there if they hope to continue their improbable playoff push.

Chances are, if they keep it going, Artemi Panarin (two assists) and Mika Zibanejad (two goals, one assist) will continue to drive New York’s success. They certainly authored some of the Rangers’ best moments on Sunday, but the two stars need help — including from a fading former star.

Sunday represented an increasingly rare start for Lundqvist, and it showed. Of course, the Rangers team crumbled in front of him, but it couldn’t have been much of a confidence-booster for “King Henrik.”

People will wonder if the Rangers should have taken Lundqvist out after the Flyers built a 3-0 lead after the first period. After all, such decisions are often made as much to “send a message” to a team, rather than reflect on poor goaltending.

The Rangers need to make every stretch count, so these two regulation losses to the Flyers certainly sting.

That said, New York deserve at least a B+ after passing a bunch of difficult tests. They played eight of their past 10 games on the road before this sound Sunday stomping. Looking at the bigger picture, going 8-3-0 in a road-heavy stretch is pretty impressive overall.

Sunday wasn’t the greatest way to begin an important four-game homestand, but they need to shake it off. Lundqvist especially so.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.