Rangers-Flyers Preview

Though the New York Rangers have hardly been at their best this month, they've figured out how to end up in the win column so often that they've climbed into a tight battle for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

The same can't be said for the Philadelphia Flyers, who haven't managed to find a groove despite their precarious position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Rangers look to complete a season sweep of the Flyers when the bitter division rivals meet Saturday night in Philadelphia.

New York (38-16-6) has gone 8-0-2 in its past 10 and 11-1-2 in 14 after defeating Arizona 4-3 at home Thursday. The Rangers won despite falling behind 3-1 in the first period and getting outshot 40-38 by the Coyotes, who lost their eighth in a row.

Chris Kreider and Lee Stempniak each scored twice and Cam Talbot made 37 saves.

"If you want to be near the top of the standings in this league, you need to find ways to win," Kreider said. "That was definitely a bit of a nail-biter and a little too close for comfort, but it speaks volumes of the leadership and character."

The Rangers certainly haven't made it easy on themselves. Talbot allowed a first-minute goal for the third time since taking over for injured No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and New York has given up three or more nine times in the past 14 contests.

Despite that, the club has won four in a row and is pushing the Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan.

"We pride ourselves in coming out the right way, and our first periods have been good, but (Thursday) for whatever reason we didn't start out the way we wanted," coach Alain Vigneault told the team's official website. "Again, this game is about finding ways to win and that's what we did."

The Flyers (26-25-11) desperately need to starting doing it. Philadelphia is struggling to keep pace with Boston in the fight for the second wild card and also needs to pass Florida while holding off Ottawa.

The club hasn't displayed a sense of urgency of late, losing two in a row and going 3-3-3 in its last nine. The Flyers fell 3-2 at Toronto on Thursday, the seventh time in that span they've managed two or fewer non-shootout goals.

This one wasn't for lack of trying, as Philadelphia held a 49-17 shot advantage but was mostly frustrated by Jonathan Bernier. The Flyers posted their highest shot total in a regulation loss since 1991.

"We feel like we deserve better, but at the same time those games are going to happen," center Brayden Schenn said. "Some nights you are going to play great and get no points and other nights you may play poorly and get points."

The Flyers haven't come all that close to earning any against the Rangers this season, getting blanked twice and losing the most recent matchup 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 29. New York has won four consecutive meetings and five of six, limiting Philadelphia to four goals in the defeats.

Talbot, expected to be in net, earned both shutouts of the Flyers this season and is 2-1-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average in three career starts in the series.

Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen could make his long-anticipated season debut Saturday, facing the last team he played against before being forced from the ice by blood clots in his leg and lungs. His last contest came April 30 in Game 7 of a first-round playoff series against the Rangers.

"If they want me to play Saturday, I think I'm good to go," Timonen said.

Promoted Stories

More NHL