After breaking a three-game losing streak their last time out, the host Flyers seek their first win in five tries this season over the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers on Saturday.
Second-place Philadelphia (31-16-7) is four points behind New York in the division, a deficit due in large part to its inability to gain any points in the season series. The Flyers have totaled six goals in the four games against their Winter Classic opponent, with the most recent loss coming by a 5-2 score at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
They have dropped six straight overall to the Rangers and two in a row at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia’s frustration seemed evident in the latest meeting, with the teams combining for 72 penalty minutes and four fights.
“I think we know how important these games are,” Rangers right wing Marian Gaborik said after scoring his team-leading 26th goal in that contest. “We have played very well against them this year and this game was one of them.”
The Flyers won’t have the added pressure of trying to end a skid in this matchup, as they defeated Toronto 4-3 on Thursday. Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn scored 1:14 apart in the second period while Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves in place of Ilya Bryzgalov, who had the flu.
“Every team’s fighting for their lives, and it’s good to get the two points tonight,” Schenn said.
While Philadelphia certainly won’t be looking past New York, the Flyers face another tough task Sunday. They’ll take on their second conference leader in as many days as they face Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.
“This weekend’s gonna be a good test for us to see where we stand,” Giroux said. “Detroit is one of the best teams in the league and so are the Rangers, so guys are pretty excited for the weekend and we gotta make sure we get our rest because it’s gonna be a tough one.”
New York (34-13-5) also got back on track after a loss in its last game. The Rangers rebounded from falling 1-0 to New Jersey on Tuesday by beating Tampa Bay 4-3 in overtime Thursday, making them 5-1-1 in their last seven.
“I think it’s a mindset. If you have some success, and we have had some success in the third period, you try to go back to that,” coach John Tortorella said.
That’s been the case for Tortorella’s team against Philadelphia this season, as New York has outscored the Flyers 8-3 in the third.
Henrik Lundqvist will likely be back in net for this game after Martin Biron started Thursday. Lundqvist, 4-1-0 with a 0.97 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last five starts, has won all four games against the Flyers in 2011-12 with a 1.50 GAA.
He has been in goal for each of his team’s six consecutive victories in the series, posting a 1.32 GAA with two shutouts.
It’s uncertain who will be in net for the Flyers. Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky have each started twice versus the Rangers this season, though Bryzgalov has given up eight goals in his games to Bobrovsky’s five.
New York and Philadelphia meet for the final time in the regular season April 3 at MSG.