NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 6th (All times eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (40-18-6) at New York Rangers (34-29-4), 12:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers will try to avoid losing four straight games for the first time this season when they visit the rival New York Rangers for today's Atlantic Division battle at Madison Square Garden.
The Eastern Conference-leading Flyers have lost three straight for the first time since Nov. 26-Dec. 1, and the club is also in the midst of its longest stretch without a point since the opening weeks of the season. The Flyers also lost three in a row in regulation from Oct. 14-21.
The last time the Flyers suffered four straight losses of any kind was during an 0-4-1 stretch from March 20-27 of last season. Philly's last skid of four consecutive regulation setbacks also came in 2009-10, when the Orange and Black went 0-5-0 from Nov. 27-Dec. 7.
With 86 points, Philadelphia is two points ahead of Boston for the East lead and just two ahead of Pittsburgh for first in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers will get to use one of their three games in hand over the Penguins today.
The Rangers were able to end a three-game slide in their last trip to the ice and New York enters today as the seventh seed in the East. John Tortorella's club is just one point ahead of Carolina, which in turn is leading Buffalo by one point for the conference's eighth and final playoff seed.
The Flyers have won all four meetings with the Rangers this season and have taken five in a row overall from the Blueshirts. Philly, which has outscored New York by a 15-6 margin this year, has also claimed seven of the last nine encounters in the series and has won its last two trips to MSG.
Philadelphia's third straight loss came Saturday afternoon in a 5-3 setback against the visiting Buffalo Sabres. The Flyers led the Sabres by a 2-0 score after 20 minutes of play, but Buffalo took the lead with three markers in a span of 3 minutes, 40 seconds during the second period.
The Flyers were able to tie the game at 3-3 before the end of the second stanza, but Jason Pominville scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Buffalo would later add an empty-net tally by Nathan Gerbe.
"We're playing teams that are battling for their lives, 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," said Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger.
Kris Versteeg, James van Riemsdyk and Kimmo Timonen tallied for the Flyers, while rookie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots in defeat.
Brian Boucher is expected to get the start over Bobrovsky today. The veteran backstop is 8-4-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average in 12 career games against the Rangers.
Philadelphia has a solid 20-8-3 record as the guest this year and will play five of its next seven games on the road.
The Rangers notched an easy 4-1 victory in Ottawa on Friday night. New York led 3-0 after two periods and extended its lead to four goals early in the third frame.
Mats Zuccarello and Artem Anisimov scored 12 seconds apart in the second period to stake New York to a three-goal cushion. Vinny Prospal and Derek Stepan also tallied for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28-of-29 shots.
The four goals on Friday night matched New York's total during its three-game slide.
"The coaches have been hoping for this from us," said Prospal about the offensive outburst. "That's what every team wants, to not have just one line that does all the scoring."
New York is still without star winger Marian Gaborik due to a concussion and the Rangers played the last game without Ryan McDonagh. The rookie defenseman has an injured knee and is questionable for today's tilt.
The Rangers have lost their last four games on home ice and are just 14-16-3 at MSG this season.
03/06 10:34:21 ET