The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have been battling atop the Atlantic Division the entire season, and with less than a month to play, they are separated by just two points.
The Rangers will try to extend their division lead to four points as they host the Flyers, who have dominated the recent series, at Madison Square Garden.
Philadelphia has won five straight games and seven of its last eight at New York. The Rangers, however, hold the season series advantage 3-2 and have at least one point from all five games thanks to a pair of overtime losses.
New York is closing on its first playoff berth since 1997.
"We got into this position with hard work," said Rangers center Michael Nylander, who earned NHL offensive player of the week honors Monday. "It is going down to the wire. That game (against Philadelphia) will be lots of fun."Nylander scored a goal in Monday's 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins and has four goals and five assists in a four-game points streak. Defenseman Michal Rozsival led the way with a goal and a season-high two assists, while Martin Straka added a goal and an assist.The Rangers have won three straight games following a six-game losing streak. They have scored five goals in each of those wins and are 7-for-15 on the power play in that span."It feels like the way we played before the (Olympic) break," said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 19 saves against the Bruins.Jaromir Jagr added an assist to surpass 100 points for the fifth time in his career. The Rangers' right wing has been a nemesis for the Flyers, recording six goals and five assists in five games against them this season, and 30 goals and 56 assists in 66 career games.The Flyers recorded back-to-back regulation wins for the first time in more than a month Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Peter Forsberg tallied a goal and an assist after missing Saturday's 4-2 win over Atlanta with a mildly sprained knee.
"There are some big games coming up, and this was a big start for us to win the game," Forsberg said.
Simon Gagne netted his 40th goal, becoming the first Flyer to reach that mark since John LeClair in the 1999-2000 season.
Antero Niittymaki stopped 21 shots for Philadelphia, which is 5-6-1 over its last 12 games. Niittymaki and Robert Esche have shared goaltending duties this season, and Esche will likely get the start against New York.
The Rangers wrap up a four-game homestand with this game and still have two more games this season with the Flyers.
STANDINGS: Flyers - 86 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Atlantic Division. Rangers - 88 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Gagne, 40 goals; Forsberg, 51 assists and 69 points; Donald Brashear, 127 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 46 goals, 55 assists and 101 points; Darius Kasparaitis, 95 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 20): Flyers - Power play: 17.5 percent (68 for 388), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.8 percent (313 for 397), 26th. Rangers - Power play: 18.9 percent (71 for 375), 8th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (351 for 411), 4th.
GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Niittymaki (21-12-6, 2 SO, 2.96 GAA); Esche (17-9-4, 1, 3.07). Rangers - Lundqvist (28-9-8, 2, 2.11); Kevin Weekes (11-10-2, 2.90).
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-0-2.
LAST MEETING: March 2; Rangers, 6-1. At Philadelphia, Jagr tallied two goals and an assist while Martin Rucinsky added a goal and an assist to lead the Rangers to their seventh straight victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 19-11-4 on the road; Rangers - 22-7-6 at home.