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Flyers look to avenge loss at Winter Classic

by Emily Kaplan
A lot can happen in 10 days.

Between Philadelphia's 4-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday night and the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2, the Flyers will have a two-day holiday break, play two road games against Eastern Conference rivals and perhaps welcome a player or two back from injury.

Time will have passed, circumstances will have changed.


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But when Flyers forward Scott Hartnell takes the ice at Citizens Bank Park on Jan 2. to face New York again, Friday's loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden will still be on his mind. It was that painful.

"Citizens Bank Park will be a pretty cool atmosphere. Both teams will be fired up," Hartnell said. "But this [loss] is still going to be fresh, for sure. It's going to hurt."

The hurting began Nov. 26, when the Rangers blanked the Flyers 2-0 at MSG. With Friday's win, New York became just the second team in the NHL to defeat Philadelphia twice this season -- the other is Winnipeg.

"Two times in a row we came in here and got outworked, outbattled, outscored and lost the game," said Hartnell, who said he was especially upset because the loss put a sour taste in the team's mouth going into the Christmas break.

The win vaulted the Rangers into first place in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four games since their seven-game winning streak was snapped.

Hartnell and the Flyers can avenge Friday's loss -- and perhaps shift momentum in the rivalry -- at the Winter Classic.

"It builds up to the Winter Classic, sure," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said after Friday's game. "We've got some games we've got to take care of before that. But the Rangers area good team, we've had a good year. ... It probably does add up to that."

However not all players are as bitter about Friday's loss as Hartnell. Jaromir Jagr said he too was upset with the result of Friday's game. But that doesn't mean his team should have a chip on their shoulder when they face the Rangers again -- on one of hockey's biggest stages.

There's too much at stake, especially with both teams battling for the top spot in their division and conference. The Rangers and Flyers enter the Christmas holiday break ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the East.

"The game, when it's two very good teams, you cannot play on emotions," Jagr said. "You have to always think first. An emotion can win two games, but not nine of 10. You have to always play smart."
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