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Flyers-Rangers Preview

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
After a dramatic win at Philadelphia over the weekend, the New York Rangers try to complete a sweep of a home-and-home series with the Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

The Rangers, who will be looking to open a season with three straight victories for the first time in 17 years, defeated the Flyers (0-1-1) on Saturday when Marcel Hossa beat Antero Niittymaki in the 13th round of a shootout for a 5-4 victory.

The shootout was the second-longest in NHL history, behind New York's 15-round win over Washington last season.

"I was just wondering if it was ever going to end," said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped all 13 Philadelphia shooters Saturday.

Lundqvist finished with 35 saves to improve to 2-1-1 with a 3.65 goals-against average against the Flyers. The second-year player, who stopped 25 shots in a 5-2 win over the Capitals at MSG in Thursday's season opener, went 21-6-4 with a 1.96 GAA at home last season.

New York was 25-10-6 on home ice in 2005-06, but has struggled at MSG against the Flyers of late. It is 1-3-3 against Philadelphia at home since the 2003-04 season.

Center Matt Cullen scored for the Rangers on Saturday to give him a five-game point streak against the Flyers, with five goals and an assist in those games.

Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr had two assists Saturday, and has 10 goals and 10 assists in 12 games against Philadelphia since being traded to New York in 2004.

The Rangers, who ended a seven-season playoff drought in 2005-06, have not opened with three straight wins since 1989-90.

Although New York has won its first two games for the first time since 2000-01, it has been utterly ineffective on the power play. The Rangers were 0-for-6 with a manpower advantage Saturday and are 0-for-9 overall.

The Flyers, meanwhile, have been outstanding in short-handed situations, killing off all 10 power plays against this season.

Philadelphia's Simon Gagne, who scored a team-high 47 goals last season, got his first two of this season Saturday.

"I thought we played very well tonight," Gagne said. "We had a lot of shots again and found a way to score goals, and I think it was a fun game to play in.

"We're going on the right track and want to build on (this)."

New captain Peter Forsberg had a goal and an assist, and has a point in 12 of his last 13 games against the Rangers, with four goals and 16 assists over that span.

Niittymaki had 26 saves in his first game since deciding to have a cortisone shot instead of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He is competing for the No. 1 goaltender job with Robert Esche, who struggled and made only 17 saves in a 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh in the season opener.

Niittymaki is 2-0-1 with a 3.00 GAA in four games against the Rangers, while Esche is 4-4-2 with a 2.88 GAA.

The Flyers have not gone winless in their first three games since 1999-2000.
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