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Rangers, Flyers chase important points in Philadelphia

by Dan Rosen

RANGERS (15-13-3) at FLYERS (13-16-2)


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

Season series: This is the fourth of five meetings this season between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Rangers have won the past two, but the Flyers won the first game of the season series at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 24.

Big story: The Rangers have five more points in the same amount of games, but both teams are trying to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race with only 17 games to play. Philadelphia will likely be without Danny Briere, who has been diagnosed with a concussion after getting hurt in practice Saturday and is out indefinitely.

Team Scope:

Rangers: They played better against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, at least better than they played against the Florida Panthers last Thursday, but it still didn't result in a victory.

The Rangers came back from an early 2-0 deficit but lost in a shootout, 3-2. They lost 3-1 to the Panthers last Thursday.

The Rangers have won only twice, including just once in regulation, in the past seven games (2-4-1). They have scored only nine goals in that seven-game stretch.

The lack of offense could be reason why they have reportedly signed Mats Zuccarello, who played this season in the KHL after spending the past two seasons with the Rangers. The Rangers have not made anything official on Zuccarello yet, but there were several reports Monday indicating a deal was imminent.

He had 26 points in 52 games with the Rangers from 2010-12. He spent most of last season in the American Hockey League.

"He's a highly skilled player, familiar with the team and coaching staff, so it's not going to take hopefully too long to adjust again," defenseman Ryan McDonagh told the New York Daily News when asked about Zuccarello. "He's played in the League and had some success in the League."

Flyers: General manager Paul Holmgren announced Monday afternoon that Briere would be out indefinitely with a concussion and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Both players were injured in practice, so the news just keeps getting worse for Philadelphia, which also blew a lead late in the game Sunday night in Pittsburgh and lost in overtime, 2-1.

The Penguins scored the game-tying goal on a 5-on-3 with 6:14 remaining in regulation.

"We could have won that game, 1-0," captain Claude Giroux told reporters after the game in Pittsburgh. "It was one of our best games defensively. We won pucks, we won battles. Even if we only got one point [Sunday night], I think we've got a lot of things we need to find a positive in. We had our chances."

But they didn't get the two points they needed, so instead the Flyers have just 28 points and at the start of play Monday night were 13th in the Eastern Conference. They are 2-5-1 with just 15 goals in their past eight games.

Who's hot: Rangers center Derek Stepan has points in 10 of the past 13 games (6-6-12). … Giroux has goals in back-to-back games for the Flyers.

Injury report: The Rangers are still missing defenseman Marc Staal (eye). Rookie center J.T. Miller (left wrist) didn't practice Monday. … Briere and Grossmann headline the Flyers' injured list, which also includes Tye McGinn (orbital bone) and Jody Shelley (hip).

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