PHILADELPHIA (AP) - New York played like it had a division title clinched already. The Flyers came out fired up like they had one to win.
Now the Atlantic Division will be settled in the final games with Philadelphia in control.
Jeff Carter set up two Flyers goals with cross-ice passes, Antero Niittymaki made 25 saves and the Flyers closed within a point of New York for the Atlantic Division lead in a 4-1 win over the Rangers on Saturday.
"We're one point behind them and we've got one more game, so it looks pretty good," said returning Flyers center Peter Forsberg. "I think we showed everybody we can play good hockey for 60 minutes."
The Rangers could have clinched their first Atlantic Division title since winning the Stanley Cup in 1993-94 with a victory, but wrapping up that milestone again will have to wait. The Rangers lost their fourth straight game and finish the season Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against Ottawa.
"We did not attack the way we needed to," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "It started to get away from us when we fell behind. We didn't put enough rubber at the net."
The Flyers took control of the division Saturday despite still being in second place. If Philadelphia wins its last two games, they would win the Atlantic and clinch the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, no matter what happens to the Rangers. That won't be easy for the Flyers, since both games are on the road, starting Sunday at New Jersey. Philadelphia finishes the season Tuesday against the Islanders.
Philadelphia's win also kept New Jersey's slim division title hopes alive. The Devils have won nine straight and beat Philadelphia 4-1 Thursday night.
"We needed to make a statement today, and now we need to follow it up," said R.J. Umberger, who scored a goal.
Mike Knuble, Nicholas Dimitrakos, and Petr Nedved also scored for the Flyers, who won for the first time in four home games against New York and for only the fourth time in the last nine games.
Forsberg was back in the lineup after missing the last four games with a groin injury and made an instant impact on the power play when he passed the puck to Knuble, who knocked it in from just outside the top of the crease for his 34th goal.
Certainly having their best player in the lineup was a needed lift for the Flyers. With Forsberg in the lineup, the Flyers are 34-16-9. Without the former NHL MVP, they're 10-9-2.
The Flyers made it 2-0 when a streaking Carter connected with Dimitrakos, who slipped it past Kevin Weekes on the right side his ninth goal.
"It's a flash of some really good stuff," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said of Carter. "He's going to be a dominant player."
With hustle and energy that has been absent early in games lately, the Flyers sent a message they weren't going to be pushed around on their home ice and outshot the Rangers 15-3 in the first period.
"We've got to make sure we have the energy. That's the biggest thing," Umberger said.
Weekes finished with 25 saves and started his seventh game in a row for injured rookie Henrik Lundqvist (hip flexor). He was an impressive 3-0-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average against Philadelphia this season.
Carter was at it again early in the second, charging so hard down the right side that Weekes bit and sneaked out to stop the breakaway, allowing the center to feed Umberger for an open-net look and his 19th goal. Carter has 19 assists.
"Both times, the defense came right over to me," Carter said. "My only option was to move the puck over."
Nedved made it 4-0 with his seventh goal.
Marcel Hossa scored his 10th goal late in the second. Niittymaki's only mistake was quickly forgotten minutes later when he made an incredible stop on Petr Sykora's breakaway that sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
"It was a must win for us," said Rangers defenseman Tom Poti. "We really wanted it bad. "We really didn't play like it."
Notes: Forsberg won the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award, which is presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice. Simon Gagne won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team's most valuable player and Joni Pitkanen was the winner of both the most outstanding defenseman and most improved player awards. ... The Flyers finished with a regular-season home attendance record of 805,783. They sold out 39 of 41 games. ... D Denis Gauthier was in the lineup after serving his two-game suspension for his check from behind on Toronto's Kyle Wellwood. ... G Robert Esche will start against the Devils. He was set to start against the Rangers, but sat out with the flu.
|PPG - Mike Knuble (34) ASST: Peter Forsberg (56), Freddy Meyer (20)|
1 - 0 PHI
|Niko Dimitrakos (9) ASST: Jeff Carter (18), R.J. Umberger (17)|
2 - 0 PHI
|R.J. Umberger (19) ASST: Jeff Carter (19), Freddy Meyer (21)|
3 - 0 PHI
|Petr Nedved (7) ASST: Michal Handzus (33), Sami Kapanen (22)|
4 - 0 PHI
|PPG - Marcel Hossa (10) ASST: Dominic Moore (9), Jason Ward (18)|
4 - 1 PHI
|Joni Pitkanen Roughing against Colton Orr|
|Michael Nylander Interference against Peter Forsberg|
|Jaromir Jagr Hooking against Petr Nedved|
|Marek Malik Hi-sticking against Donald Brashear|
|Niko Dimitrakos Hooking against Michael Nylander|
|Thomas Pock Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Sandis Ozolinsh Hooking against Michal Handzus|
|Simon Gagne Charging against Ryan Hollweg|
|Mike Knuble Cross checking against Ryan Hollweg|
|Ryan Hollweg Roughing against Peter Forsberg|
|Petr Nedved Interference against Blair Betts|
|Peter Forsberg Charging against Ryan Hollweg|
|Petr Sykora Slashing against Peter Forsberg|
|Ryan Hollweg Roughing against Donald Brashear|
|Donald Brashear Roughing against Ryan Hollweg|
|Donald Brashear Roughing against Ryan Hollweg|
|Donald Brashear Misconduct (10 min) against Blair Betts|