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Philadelphia, PA – Looking for a share of the Atlantic Division lead, the Philadelphia Flyers dropped a 6-1 decision to the New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center on Thursday night.Jaromir Jagr
led the Rangers with two goals and an assist, and New York now leads the Flyers by four points for first place. Jagr now has six goals and five assists for 11 points in five games against Philadelphia this season.
Ahead 1-0 after the first period, the Rangers broke the game wide open with four goals in the second.
Donald Brashear went after Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis early, resulting in a minor penalty. After another penalty on the Flyers to Derian Hatcher for slashing to make it a five-on-three advantage, the Rangers made it 2-0 on a one-timer by Jagr from the faceoff circle at 3:08.
The power play continued and New York tallied for the third time on Jagr's second of the game, when the NHL's leading scorer fired in a bouncing puck in the slot.
"We took some poor penalties at the beginning of the second period to let them in the game," said Ken Hitchcock.
Antero Niittymaki relieved Robert Esche in goal following that goal but could not stop the bleeding. After Peter Forsberg and Freddy Meyer got tangled up in the Flyers' zone, the puck ended up on the stick of Blair Betts
and his wrist shot found the back of the net 27 seconds after the goaltender switch.
"I wanted to battle it out, but that's part of the job of a coach," said Esche. "He needs to make decisions to get the team going. I thought it was the right decision."
Meyer's power play goal at 9:32 brought some life to the sellout crowd, but it did not last long after Randy Jones gave a gift to Jason Ward just 22 seconds later with a turnover and Ward walked in on net before beating Niittymaki.
Philadelphia registered 13 of the first 14 shots on goal in the game, including three power plays, although goaltender Kevin Weekes did not need to make any spectacular saves in keeping the Flyers off of the board. Weekes finished the game with 36 saves to record the victory.
"We could have really salted the game away in the first period with the power plays that we had but we didn't score on them," said Hitchcock.
New York capitalized on its first man advantage of the game when all four Flyers penalty-killers were caught along the boards to Esche's right. Martin Straka got control of the puck and passed to Jagr alone in front of the net, and Jagr fed Michal Nylander for an easy tip in at 17:34.
"I think the first period might have been our most dominating first period in a long time, and then at the end they scored," said Hatcher. "Our power play [stunk], and our penalty killing [stunk], and that pretty much sums it up. Tonight it kind of blew up on us."
There was tension in the game early, when Kasparaitis completely missed on an attempted check along the boards on Forsberg. Forsberg made it known that he was not happy about that, leading to a shoving match. Brashear came out on the next shift alongside Forsberg and also had a conversation with the Rangers defenseman after the next stoppage of play.
Brashear was given 29 penalty minutes for instigating a fight with Kasparaitis with 1:53 remaining in the game, resulting in Martin Rucinsky's power play goal to cap the scoring.
"We want to play physical and tonight we got carried away a little bit," said Brashear.
The Flyers will face the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum. The time of the game was recently pushed back to 8:00 p.m. (CSN).FLYERS NOTES
The game could have been a rematch of the gold medal game in the Olympics, but Sweden's Henrik Lundqvist served as the backup goaltender for the Rangers. Niittymaki represented Finland. … This was the fifth of eight games between the two clubs. New York has won the last two and three of the five. They meet again on March 22 at Madison Square Garden.