NEW YORK -- The Philadelphia Flyers have enjoyed mostly success this season. They are 30-15-6 with 66 points, just three fewer than the East-leading Rangers, their opponent Sunday afternoon.
The Flyers, however, have yet to figure out the Rangers. They've lost all three meetings this season when just one regulation win would be the difference between the Flyers sitting in fourth place or atop the conference.
"We haven't had any success against the Rangers," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. "It's a big game for us. If we're going to win our division, we've got a couple games coming up that are going to have to go in the (win) column."
The Flyers dropped the first meeting to the Rangers at MSG, 2-0, on Nov. 26. The deck was slightly stacked against the Flyers that night, as they were playing their third game in four nights and were without forwards James van Riemsdyk and Jaromir Jagr and defenseman Chris Pronger, who still battling a "virus" at the time and wasn't yet lost for the season with a concussion.
In the second meeting Dec. 23, the Flyers fell behind 3-0 before losing 4-2 at MSG. At the Winter Classic on Jan. 2, the Flyers held a 2-1 lead entering the third period, but the Rangers scored three straight goals to take the victory at Citizens Bank Park.
Despite the negative outcomes, Laviolette saw positives in the last two losses.
"I actually liked the way we played against them the last two games," Laviolette said. "The Winter Classic, we lost about five minutes to start the third period. Other than that, I liked our game. The last time we played in here I liked our game -- just didn't like the scoreboard."
The Flyers are coming into Sunday's contest off one of the stranger games any team has played this season.
The Devils came into Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon and scored the game's first six goals, three of which came on the power play with another coming while shorthanded. The score was 6-0 entering the third period, but the Flyers scored four times to make the finish more interesting before losing 6-4.
The Flyers outshot the Devils 24-1 in the third period. That's the portion of the game Laviolette would like to bottle and use against the Rangers.
"I like to see us pick up where we left off in the third period," Laviolette said. "It was really difficult to get a read on that game. I think 4 goals were specialty teams. Five-on-five, it was tough to find out where we're at. So I'm not sure. We came out and played a strong third period, which is what we wanted to do, so hopefully we can continue that."
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