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Biron leads Flyers to 4-2 win over Rangers

by Brian Compton
So much for any goaltending controversy in Philadelphia.

Martin Biron put on a show for the home fans on Saturday afternoon, as he stopped 39 shots in the Flyers' 4-2 win against the New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center.

It wasn't too long ago when Philadelphia's goaltenders appeared to be in a fierce battle for the No. 1 job. Antero Niittymaki -- who is scheduled to start Sunday's rematch at Madison Square Garden -- had played well enough to give Flyers coach John Stevens something to think about.

But Saturday was Biron's fourth straight start; he's 3-1 with a .948 save percentage during that span.

"I felt like I was reacting quick on the puck," Biron said. "It was all about quick reaction." Arron Asham scored a pair of goals for the Flyers, who are trying to secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Philadelphia is the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell also scored for Philadelphia, which has won three of its last four games.

In the end, though, Saturday was all about Biron's performance.

"Marty was terrific," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "It was probably his best performance of the year."

It certainly left the Rangers frustrated. During a time when it seems every team in the Eastern race is earning points, the Blueshirts failed to come away with any in Philadelphia. Five teams were separated by four points near the postseason cutoff going into Saturday's action.

Nik Antropov and Sean Avery scored for the Rangers, but the latter's goal came when his team was trailing 4-1 with just 3:41 to go.

"I thought we were outstanding for 30-35 minutes of that game, but then I think we struggled with some basic stuff for a number of minutes so it's just consistency," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We did some good things for a number of minutes, but it's not good enough to get a win."

New York went ahead 1-0 early in the first when Antropov capitalized on a turnover by Flyers defenseman Matt Carle.

Antropov blocked a shot by Carle at the Rangers' blue line and outraced Gagne on the breakaway. Antropov faked a backhander and beat Biron with a forehanded shot for his second goal since joining the Rangers before the trade deadline. It was his 23rd goal of the season.



Scott Hartnell evened the score with his third goal in as many games at 16:34 of the first. Joffrey Lupul started an odd-man rush by flicking a backhanded pass to Jeff Carter. Henrik Lundqvist (25 saves) stopped Carter's shot, but the rebound kicked out to Hartnell. He fired it in for his 25th goal, tying a career-best.

Richards broke a 1-1 tie when he tallied his 27th goal of the season in the second off an odd-man rush. Lundqvist stopped Simon Gagne's shot and the initial rebound attempt by Richards, but the latter buried his second chance.

"Every game right now is important for us," Lundqvist said. "We need the points. We did a lot of good things, but it wasn't enough. We got caught too low a couple of times and they took advantage of it. Their transition game is pretty good. When you lose pucks down low, they're pretty good turning that into scoring chances."

Asham gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead 5:47 into the third, scoring off a behind-the-net feed from Claude Giroux. He fired a slap shot past Lundqvist just under nine minutes later to make it 4-1. Avery's goal cut it to 4-2 with 3:41 remaining, scoring in his second straight game.

"I throw one out once a year," Asham said of his first two-goal effort this season.

Material from wire services was used in this report.


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