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Flyers try to stay perfect vs. Rangers

by John Kreiser
FLYERS (38-15-5) at RANGERS (31-25-4)

-- NBC (HD)

Last 10
-- Philadelphia 7-3-0; New York 3-6-1

Season series -- It's the fourth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals, and the Rangers are still looking for their first victory. The Flyers won the first two games in Philadelphia, both by a 4-1 score, before beating the Rangers 3-2 at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 16.

Big story -- The Flyers wrap up a four-game road trip when they come to the Garden for an early start. Both teams are coming off losses on Friday night -- the Flyers allowed a late goal and lost 3-2 at Carolina, while the Rangers went across the river to New Jersey and left with a 1-0 victory. The Flyers are still comfortably in front in the Eastern Conference, while the Rangers are seventh.

Team Scope:

-- A sudden case of the flu might have cost the Flyers two points in Raleigh. Captain Mike Richards took part in the pregame warmup, but then was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms. Jody Shelley had to race down and dress in his place, and coach Peter Laviolette had to do some line-juggling. Before the Flyers could get their bearings, the 'Canes led 2-0.

"I'm not making excuses," Laviolette said. "We need to be better, but we were juggling a little bit."

Rangers -- The Rangers played an almost mistake-free game in New Jersey, but the one error they made cost them two points. Defenseman Mark Staal couldn't handle a bouncing puck at the right point midway through the second period; it hopped past him and New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk wound up scoring on a breakaway for the game's only goal.

(The puck) was coming to my stick and left skate, and I was going to go down to stop it, but it came off the ice and took a weird bounce,” Staal said. "I just couldn’t get my skate on it, and then he goes down on a breakaway. It’s a bad bounce, and we just couldn’t get one of our own.

Who's hot -- Philadelphia's Danny Briere has 4 points in his last two games. ... New York's Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik both had a four-game points streak snapped in New Jersey. Ryan Callahan has 5 goals in his last eight games.

Injury report -- The Flyers hope Richards will be able to get back into the lineup. ... The Rangers are still without captain Chris Drury (knee surgery) and forward Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder/appendectomy).

Stat pack -- The Rangers have allowed the first goal in each of their last seven games and 11 of the last 12. ... New York's 16 shots at New Jersey were a season low.

Puck drop -- The Flyers edged the Rangers for eighth place last season by beating New York in a shootout in their season finale. But the addition of Norwegian forward Mats Zuccarello has turned the Rangers into a lethal team in the tiebreaker. Zuccarello has scored on five of his six tries and shares the League lead with three game-deciding goals, including Thursday night in a 4-3 win against Los Angeles. Zuccarello and Eric Christensen (4-for-4) give the Rangers one of the best two-man shootout combos in the NHL.
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