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Rangers and Flyers try to slop slides

by John Kreiser
RANGERS (41-32-5) at FLYERS (46-22-10)

TV -- NBC (HD); TSN (HD)

Last 10 --
New York 6-3-1; Philadelphia 4-3-3

Season series -- It's the last of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. Philadelphia won the first four, including both games at the Wells Fargo Center, before the Rangers pummeled the Flyers 7-0 at Madison Square Garden four weeks ago.

Big story -- It's a big game for both teams, but for different reasons. The Rangers come to Philadelphia in eighth place, battling with Buffalo and Carolina for the final two playoff spots in the East. The Flyers have already punched their ticket to the postseason; they're trying to hold off Washington in the race for the top spot in the conference.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- New York went 2-1-1 in a four-game span despite scoring only three goals, but the Rangers' defensive magic vanished on Long Island Thursday night when the Islanders lit them up for six goals in the final 40 minutes of a 6-2 victory.

"There are no excuses," said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was lifted after allowing four goals in the second period. "I felt that they were a lot more hungry than we were. I am very disappointed."

Flyers --
For a team with 102 points, the Flyers are looking surprisingly vulnerable. They are coming off back-to-back losses to a pair of non-playoff teams -- 1-0 at home to Atlanta on Thursday and 4-2 at New Jersey on Friday.

If the Flyers need a rallying point, memories of the 7-0 loss in New York on March 6 should come in handy.

"I think that you remember that and certainly hold on to it and leverage that against the opposition," coach Peter Laviolette said Saturday. "The reality of it is that we have to continue to win to put ourselves in the top seed in the Eastern Conference for home-ice reasons, and their facing a game in which I'm sure they're looking at it as all their eggs in one basket because if they don't win it there's a chance that they won't make the playoffs."

Who's hot --
Philadelphia's Jeff Carter has 3 goals in his last five games and 36 for the season, the second-highest total of his career. Leading scorer Claude Giroux (72 points) has 4 assists in Philadelphia's last five games.

Injury report --
The Rangers will be without forwards Chris Drury and Alexander Frolov (knee), Derek Boogaard (concussion) and goaltender Martin Biron (broken collarbone) for the rest of the regular season. … Philadelphia will be without defenseman Chris Pronger for the rest of the season due to a broken right hand. Forward Jody Shelley had surgery on Thursday to repair a broken orbital bone and will miss another four weeks.

Stat pack -- It was eight days short of a year ago that the Rangers and Flyers ended the 2009-10 season in Philadelphia with the Flyers winning 2-1 in a shootout to make the playoffs and eliminate the Rangers. If this game goes to a shootout, the odds are heavily in New York's favor. The Rangers are 6-0 in shootouts on the road, while the Flyers are 0-4 at home.

Puck drop -- Though they know they're going to the playoffs, the Flyers know they need to step up their play with the end of the regular season a week away.

"We keep talking about this being the top team in the league, but we haven't played that way," defenseman Kimmo Timonen told the media after the loss at New Jersey. "Right now we've got to worry about ourselves and make sure we get our game in order. These [last] four games I think are huge for us. Thinking about the playoffs, going into the playoffs, we've got to get our game back on track."

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