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Flyers 6, Senators 3 @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Flyers are getting healthy and streaky at the right time.

It's a combination that's led them to the top of Atlantic Division and has them again looking like a Stanley Cup contender.

The Flyers scored four goals in the first period and Antero Niittymaki made the early spurt stand up with 33 saves to lead Philadelphia to a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

The Rangers lost 4-3 in a shootout to Tampa Bay on Saturday, giving New York and Philadelphia 90 points and the Atlantic Division lead. The Flyers have one more win.

"The only way we're going to finish first and catch up to the Rangers is to put a streak together," center Petr Nedved said. "That's what we're doing right now and we're giving ourselves a chance to win. It looks like we're peaking at the right time and hopefully we can finish strong and take it over to the playoffs."

Nedved, Niko Dimitrakos, Jeff Carter and Michal Handzus each scored in the first period to chase goalie Ray Emery and carry the Flyers to their fourth straight victory.

"If you don't get all over them quick, they're going to use their speed and skill to hurt you," Carter said. "I think we had to play a real physical, tight-checking game and that's what we did."

While catching the Eastern Conference-leading Senators in the standings seems out of reach, Philadelphia has helped its playoff push with wins over New Jersey and the Rangers this week.

Riddled with injuries most of the season, the Flyers are only now starting to get back to full strength.

"Now people are starting to see what we look like as a team," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Hopefully we can stay healthy. We've been chasing it all year."

Ottawa, which snapped a four-game winning streak, might hope to avoid the Flyers in the postseason. The Flyers finished 3-1 this season against the Senators, the first time since 1997-98 they won three games against Ottawa.

Peter Forsberg added a power-play goal, and Donald Brashear scored his fourth of the season in the third period for the Flyers, who have won five of six.

Emery had been sharp for the Senators since taking over the starting duties in place of Dominik Hasek, who is nursing a groin injury sustained during the Olympics. Emery was stunned early by a Flyers team that also scored six Wednesday against the Rangers.

Nedved netted his sixth of the season only 35 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Dimitrakos quickly followed with his seventh 2 minutes in for the Flyers.

Carter swiped the puck away from Brian Pothier near the net and scored his 19th goal. After Handzus sneaked around the back of the net and knocked one in from the left side, it was 4-0 and that was all for Emery.

Emery allowed four goals on 14 shots in only 8 1/2 minutes. Michael Morrison was solid from there, stopping 29 shots. Forsberg beat Morrison early in the third with his 19th goal to make it 5-1.

"I'm assuming they haven't played every period like that this year," Emery said. "They were flying. They definitely sent a message."

Pothier's slap shot from the right circle midway through the second period for a power-play goal was all the Senators got until the third when Dany Heatley's 40th goal and Antoine Vermette's 20th made it 6-3.

"They were trying to prove something, and tonight we didn't show up," Vermette said.

Niittymaki continued to make his case that he should be the Flyers postseason goalie. Hitchcock hasn't decided if he'll start the rookie Niittymaki or Robert Esche in the playoffs.

Niittymaki, only the fifth first-year goalie in team history to reach 20 wins, has been outstanding lately. He's won three of four on this winning streak.

Notes: The Flyers (40-21-10) reached the 40-win mark for the sixth straight season and ninth time in 10 seasons. ... The Senators are 11-2-1 in March. ... Forsberg has a point in 40 of 54 games this season. ... The Flyers have won six of eight at home. ... The Senators start a four-game homestand Tuesday against New Jersey.

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