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Flyers try to stay perfect vs. Rangers

by John Kreiser
FLYERS (40-18-6) at RANGERS (34-29-4)

-- NBC (HD)

Last 10 -- Philadelphia 4-5-1; New York 5-5-0

Season series -- It's the fifth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals, and the Rangers are still looking for their first win. Philadelphia won a pair of 4-1 decisions at home before Christmas, and has beaten the Rangers 3-2 and 4-2 in its two visits to Madison Square Garden after the new year.

Team Scope:

-- Philadelphia has been on top of the Eastern Conference for much of the season, but the Flyers' lead over Boston has been melting away. Philadelphia has dropped three in a row, including Saturday's 5-3 home loss to Buffalo. It's the first time they've dropped three in a row in regulation since mid-October.

Coach Peter Laviolette is confident his team will bounce back.

"This team got to this point by a certain recipe, a certain identity in how they play the game," he said. "We've got to continue to work at that and get back to that and get to that, and wins will start to come our way. I promise you this -- wins will start to come our way."

Rangers -- After scoring just four goals while losing all three games during a homestand this past week, the Rangers found some office Friday night in Ottawa, scoring four goals in a 4-1 victory that moved them back into seventh place in the East.

“It’s easier to stick with the game plan when you get the lead and then add to that lead,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made his 11th straight start on Friday. “It was another strong game, and strong start for us, but the difference is we scored goals.”

Who's hot -- Flyers forward Claude Giroux has 1 goal and 5 points in his last five games. Captain Mike Richards has 3 assists in his last two games. ... Rangers center Artem Anisimov has goals in two of New York's last three games.

Injury report -- Philadelphia is without defenseman Oskars Bartulis (shoulder) for the rest of the season. .. The Rangers are playing without sharpshooter Marian Gaborik, who's still out with a concussion, as well as goalie Martin Biron (broken collarbone). Defenseman Ryan McDonough (knee) didn't play Friday.

Stat pack -- The Flyers have been outscored 10-2 in the third periods of their last five games, two of which they led entering the third.

Puck drop -- Short of a major collapse, the Flyers know they'll make the playoffs. But for the third time in four days, they're playing a team that has no such assurances -- and that means they'll have to increase their desperation level to match that of their opponents.

"We're playing teams that are battling for their lives," defenseman Chris Pronger said, "and they are going to be desperate and play with a lot of determination and desire, and we have to match that if we want to win hockey games,"

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