Rangers-Flyers Preview

The New York Rangers met their most recent opponent for the second time in 10 days - and the negative result was the same.

On Friday, they're hoping for an outcome similar to the last matchup with their next opponent, the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, whom the Rangers shut out nine days before this meeting.

New York (9-8-4) had blanked the Flyers and Montreal in back-to-back games coming into Wednesday's contest against Tampa Bay, which had routed the Rangers 5-1 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 17 to precede New York's consecutive shutouts. Though the Rangers played better this time, they again couldn't come up with points, falling 4-3.

One identical facet of the game was the play of former Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, who scored two goals against New York for the second straight time, including the winner in the second period.

''In my estimation, they're probably one of the best teams in the NHL,'' coach Alain Vigneault said of the Lightning. ''We were ready for this game. Our guys knew what to expect. They made a couple more plays defensively and offensively than we did, and at the end of the night that was the difference.''

Tampa Bay mostly controlled the game, outshooting the Rangers 29-19 - holding New York to its lowest shot total of the season - and scoring twice on the power play.

"I felt we battled. We just didn't spend enough time in the offensive zone," said forward Martin St. Louis, who made his return to Tampa after being acquired for Callahan in March and had a four-game point streak snapped amid constant booing from the home fans.

The results were better for the Rangers when they faced the Flyers after the home loss to the Lightning. Kevin Klein and Rick Nash scored and Cam Talbot made 31 saves in a 2-0 victory at MSG on Nov. 19.

That was Philadelphia's third straight loss, and things haven't gotten much better since. The Flyers (8-10-3) are 1-5-1 in seven after a 5-2 defeat at Detroit on Wednesday.

The players held a brief postgame meeting before reporters were allowed into the dressing room.

''We just talked about the things we need to get better at,'' said forward Jakub Voracek, who snapped a five-game goal drought.

Coach Craig Berube expects that improvement soon, saying that players could be benched if the team's fortunes don't improve.

''We had some guys that aren't competing, and the result's in goals against. It can't happen,'' he said. ''You need everybody on your team competing at the highest level all the time in this league; otherwise, you will not win.''

The Flyers have scored two goals in two of their past five games and were shut out in two others. Though toward the top of the NHL with 30.9 shots per game, Philadelphia has totaled 45 in its last two.

Nash brought New York within one at the 12:49 mark Wednesday with his 15th goal, scoring for the third straight game and adding an assist. Defenseman Dan Boyle added his first goal in seven games as a Ranger.

New York could get captain Ryan McDonagh back in the lineup Friday from a separated left shoulder that has kept him out since Nov. 1. The speedy defenseman has three assists in 10 games on the season.

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist for Philadelphia on Wednesday. He's third in the league with 19 assists and sixth with 26 points.

Philadelphia has won three straight regular-season matchups with New York at Wells Fargo Center and five of six there including the playoffs.

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