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Flyers-Rangers Preview

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers


To view the game notes for tonight's game, click here.

Though this critical matchup is at Madison Square Garden, that could give the Philadelphia Flyers an advantage as they try to forge a tie atop the Atlantic Division with the New York Rangers.

The visiting team has won each of the six meetings this season and the Flyers have won six straight games at MSG, outscoring the Rangers 21-12 in that span.

"We've played pretty well against them this year," Flyers goaltender Robert Esche said. "At this time of the year, every game can go one way or the other."

The Flyers need Tuesday's matchup to go their way if they want to tie the Rangers for the division lead, currently trailing by two points with eight games remaining for both teams. New York holds the third spot in the Eastern Conference due to its division lead while Philadelphia is fifth.

These rivals meet for the eighth and final time during the regular season on April 15 in Philadelphia.

The start of the Flyers' latest trip to New York got off to a good start on Sunday, scoring three first-period goals en route to a 4-1 win over the Islanders.

Mike Knuble scored his career-best 31st goal of the season to reach 60 points, also a career high, in his first season with Philadelphia.

"I'm thrilled," said Knuble, who has five goals and one assist in six games against the Rangers this season. "The stuff I've achieved since my 30th birthday saved my career. I'm really proud at 33 that I've been able to do my best. ... It's a great feeling."

R.J. Umberger, Jeff Carter and Sami Kapanen also scored Sunday while Esche made 31 stops for the Flyers, who won despite being outshot 32-22.

Philadelphia, the defending Atlantic Division champion, again may be without center Petr Nedved, who is listed as day-to-day with a strained groin. The veteran center, who spent six seasons with the Rangers, was injured in Saturday's 4-1 loss to New Jersey.

A 6-3 defeat to the Flyers on March 22 in the most recent meeting snapped the Rangers' three-game winning streak and started a 2-2-2 skid. New York, though, has had four days off since its last game.

The Rangers were 0-for-6 on the power play Thursday while giving up three extra-man goals en route to a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Fedor Tyutin scored for the Rangers, who had 27 penalty minutes in their fifth game in seven days.

"It's tough to take so many penalties," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who had 28 saves. "I thought 5-on-5 we played pretty well and got some scoring chances. They just played smart and seemed to wait for our penalties."

Lundqvist has been one of the NHL's best goaltenders this season with a .924 save percentage and a 2.18 goals-against average. The 24-year-old rookie, however, has struggled against the Flyers with a 1-1-1 record and 3.64 GAA.

Jaromir Jagr had an assist on Tyutin's goal to extend his point streak to 11 games, with nine goals and 13 assists in that stretch. Leading the NHL in goals and points, Jagr needs one goal to break the Rangers' single-season record of 52, set by Adam Graves during the 1993-94 season.

Jagr has nine goals and five assists in six games against the Flyers this season.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 92 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Atlantic Division. Rangers - 94 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Simon Gagne, 42 goals; Peter Forsberg, 54 assists and 73 points; Donald Brashear, 134 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 52 goals, 62 assists and 114 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 97 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 18.2 percent (75 for 413), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (333 for 421), 26th. Rangers - Power play: 19.2 percent (78 for 406), 8th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (376 for 446), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Esche (19-9-4, 1 SO, 3.00 GAA); Antero Niittymaki (22-14-6, 2, 2.98). Rangers - Lundqvist (30-11-9, 2, 2.18); Kevin Weekes (11-10-3, 2.94).

SEASON SERIES: 3-3.

LAST MEETING: March 22; Flyers, 6-3. At New York, Knuble scored two of Philadelphia's three power-play goals in the first period, and the Flyers overcame Jagr's hat trick to get the win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 21-11-4 on the road; Rangers - 23-8-6 at home.
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