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Preview: Flyers at Rangers

New York goes for fourth straight win; Philadelphia aims for faster starts

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

FLYERS (23-19-6) at RANGERS (31-16-1)

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV

 

Flyers team scope

The Philadelphia Flyers enter their next-to-last game before the All-Star break one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have allowed the first goal in 10 of their past 11 games and 32 times in 48 games this season, most in the NHL. They've scored first 16 times, second-fewest in the League behind the Colorado Avalanche (14). "This is a high-powered offensive team," forward Wayne Simmonds said of the New York Rangers. "They put up a lot of goals and play strong, defensive hockey. For us it's limiting our mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities that we do get." Goalie Steve Mason made 36 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Sunday, his first victory since Dec. 21. "I think he worked his way into that game a little bit in terms of kind of getting into the flow of the game, but he did it at the right time," coach Dave Hakstol said. "In my opinion, save of the game was in overtime on a breakaway on [John] Tavares." A win moves Mason into third place on the Flyers all-time list with 94 behind Ron Hextall (240) and Bernie Parent (232). The Flyers hope to build off the momentum of their comeback win against the Islanders; they're 4-9-3 since their 10-game winning streak ended on Dec. 17 and have one regulation victory in their past 16 games. "We played a really strong 65-minute effort," Simmonds said. "That's the way it has to be tonight. We're going to have to play a strong 60 and we know that."

 

Rangers team scope

The Rangers play their final game before the break looking to extend their winning streak to four games, which would be their longest since winning five straight from Oct. 30-Nov. 6. "We all want to finish strong here and then go on the break, feel good about our game and where we are," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "Every time we play the Flyers it's an intense game, a physical game. You have to expect them to come into our building and play a hard game. It's a good test for us right before the break." Lundqvist is 3-0-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average, .952 save percentage (80 saves on 84 shots) and one shutout in his past three games since allowing seven goals to the Dallas Stars on Jan. 17. He's 2-0-0 against Philadelphia this season. "Obviously a week ago it was a tough place to be, but you just try to work really hard in practice and analyze the game quickly and prove it," he said. "I felt like I've been better and the team's been better, and I have this opportunity to finish strong before the break." New York is 10-5-0 against the Metropolitan Division, including 5-1-0 at Madison Square Garden. Fifteen of its final 34 regular-season games are against division opponents. "It's a division opponent we're very familiar with," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "Playing at home here against them, we're going to try and go into the break feeling good about our game and continue to be challenged defensively. They've got some skill and a good power play, so we've got to play disciplined. We've got to make sure we take care of the puck in our own end and that'll lead to some offensive looks."

 

Flyers projected lineup

Michael Raffl -- Claude Giroux -- Jakub Voracek

Travis Konecny -- Brayden Schenn -- Wayne Simmonds

Nick Cousins -- Sean Couturier -- Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Roman Lyubimov

Ivan Provorov -- Andrew MacDonald

Mark Streit -- Radko Gudas

Brandon Manning -- Shayne Gostisbehere

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Dale Weise, Nick Schultz

Injured: Michael Del Zotto (lower body)

 

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Derek Stepan -- Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Matt Puempel -- J.T. Miller -- Michael Grabner

Jimmy Vesey -- Oscar Lindberg -- Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Nick Holden -- Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei -- Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

Magnus Hellberg

Scratched: None

Injured: Marc Staal (concussion), Kevin Hayes (lower body), Jesper Fast (upper body), Antti Raanta (lower body)

 

Status report

The Flyers held an optional skate but are expected to go with the same forward lines they used Sunday, when Giroux was reunited with Voracek. The duo combined for 10 shots on goal, including Giroux's overtime winner. Del Zotto is day to day. … Staal skated Wednesday wearing a regular jersey but won't play until at least Jan. 31. Fast skated wearing a red, no-contact sweater. Kreider, Stepan and Zuccarello were together after Puempel replaced Kreider during the Rangers' 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Puempel soon scored his sixth goal to give New York a 2-1 lead. Vesey replaced Pirri on the first power-play unit with McDonagh, Zuccarello, Kreider and Stepan.

 

Who's hot

Schenn had two assists against the Islanders to give him four points in his past five games. Simmonds scored a goal and had an assist; he has two goals and four points in his past five games. … Zuccarello has one goal and 17 assists in 15 games since Dec. 18. Miller 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his past 11 games and has goals in four of the past six games. Stepan has three goals and six points in his past five games. Buchnevich has two goals and six points in six games since returning from back spasms.

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