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Flyers 4, Penguins 3 @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Though they play better on the road, the Philadelphia Flyers are desperately trying to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

With four games remaining, it's simple for Philadelphia: Win out and secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Jeff Carter's power-play goal with 6:32 left in the third period lifted the Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

The Flyers wasted a 3-0 lead, but earned the victory to move within three points of the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers. The Rangers have just three games left, including one meeting between the teams. Philadelphia is fifth in the East, two points ahead of New Jersey with two road games left against the Devils.

"I've seen our fans just will us in playoff games," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think home-ice is something you need. It's very important. It's real difficult when you constantly have to win road games in the playoffs."

The Flyers are 21-13-6 at the Wachovia Center, with only Saturday's game against the Rangers left at home. They are 22-11-5 on the road.

Simon Gagne scored his 45th goal and Joni Pitkanen and Brian Savage also scored for the Flyers, who were without star center Peter Forsberg for the third straight game because of a groin injury.

"It's a big win for us because we have a chance to win the division," Pitkanen said. "We've had a tough time at home. Maybe we feel a little more pressure. If you're going to win in the playoffs, you have to win both (home and away)."

Michel Ouellet, Ryan Whitney and Sidney Crosby scored for Pittsburgh, which already secured the worst record in the conference.

After giving up three straight goals, the Flyers went ahead when their dismal special teams came through.

Freddy Meyer took a slap shot from the point that deflected off Niko Dimitrakos. Carter, standing at the side of the net, tucked the puck in for his 22nd goal to give the Flyers a one-goal lead.

"It was just kind of bouncing around out there," Carter said.

Robert Esche preserved it with several outstanding saves in a frantic final minute. Esche made 23 saves in his fourth start in five games for the Flyers, though Hitchcock hasn't announced whether Esche or Antero Niittymaki will be the playoff starter.

"Goaltending is the least of our problems," Hitchcock said. "Right now, we have to have a killer instinct."

Just 1:23 after falling behind 3-0, Ouellet's power-play goal cut it to 3-1 in the second period.

The Penguins closed to 3-2 when Whitney scored just 92 seconds into the third period. Whitney took a behind-the-net pass from Crosby and lifted it just under the crossbar.

Five seconds after failing to score on a power play, the Penguins tied it at 3 on Crosby's 37th goal 8:16 into the third.

"We've been there a lot this year. We've fallen behind and climbed our way back, but it seems like one mistake we make and sometimes it costs us," Crosby said.

The Flyers scored their first two goals during 4-on-4 situations after penalties wiped out two of their four power-play opportunities in the second period.

Petr Nedved, back after missing four games with a groin injury, skated down the right side, turned and fed a pass to Gagne, who scored on a wrister before crashing into the right post and knocking the net off its moorings.

Savage's ninth goal midway through the second put the Flyers ahead 2-0. Pitkanen sent a perfect centering pass from near the left boards to a streaking Savage, who redirected the puck past goalie Sebastien Caron.

Pitkanen ripped a slap shot from the slot just inside the left post for his 13th goal, giving the Flyers a 3-0 lead.

Flyers enforcer Donald Brashear and Pittsburgh's Eric Cairns squared off in the third period immediately after both players left the penalty box, with Brashear landing a few solid shots early in the fight. Brashear got a rousing ovation as he returned to the penalty box and exchanged high-fives with some fans.

Philadelphia, plagued by injuries throughout the season, remained without defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Chris Therien (head). The Flyers are 10-8-2 without Forsberg, who has 19 goals and 55 assists for 74 points in 58 games. They're 31-16-9 with him in the lineup.

One game after allowing six power-play goals, the Flyers killed six of seven penalties.

Notes: The Flyers, who had lost three in a row at home, have won 23 of their last 27 games against the Penguins in Philadelphia. ... Flyers D Denis Gauthier served the first of his two-game suspension for his check from behind on Toronto's Kyle Wellwood in Saturday night's loss to the Maple Leafs. ... Flyers D David Printz made his NHL debut. ... The Penguins completed a four-game road trip, going 1-3. ... The Flyers won the season series, 6-2. ... Flyers rookie F Ryan Potulny got his first career point with an assist on Pitkanen's goal. ... Crosby had 14 points against the Flyers, most ever by a rookie.

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