New York (25-35-7) at Philadelphia (37-18-6)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 3:00 pm EST Sat Mar 20, 2004
  • TV: ABC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Coming off their first home loss in a month, the Philadelphia Flyers hope to move closer to the Atlantic Division title when they host the New York Rangers.

Philadelphia had been unbeaten in its previous six home games (5-0-1) before a 3-2 loss to Toronto on Thursday.

John LeClair and Kim Johnsson scored late in the third period for the Flyers, who are three points behind Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference lead. Philadelphia also failed to extend its lead over New Jersey in the race for the top spot in the Atlantic.

“We hit three or four goalposts and hit the crossbar,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “But it’s hard to fault our team’s effort right now.”

Besides ending a four-game overall unbeaten streak, Thursday’s loss also saw the Flyers lose defenseman Vladimir Malakhov to a broken jaw when he was hit by a puck with 3:55 remaining. Malakhov, acquired from the Rangers on March 8, was to have a plate implanted Friday.

Losing Malakhov is particularly damaging to Philadelphia, which is already without defenseman Eric Desjardins and centers Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau. There is no timetable for Desjardins or Primeau to return, but Roenick, who sustained a concussion and a broken jaw on Feb. 12, said he hopes to return for the final week of the regular season.

With Desjardins and Malakhov sidelined, forward Sami Kapanen could play as a defenseman in the playoffs. Kapanen played defense in two games earlier this month.

“It adds a whole new dimension to us,” Hitchcock said. “Sometimes, you get players like him who can create more offense from the back end than from the front.”

The Flyers—4-0 against the Rangers this season—have won eight of nine at home against New York.

The Rangers, out of the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, haven’t done a very good job of playing spoiler, winning just two of their last 11 (2-6-0-3).

One of the few bright spots for New York has been the play of star forward Jaromir Jagr, who scored the tying goal with 2:43 left in regulation in Thursday’s 4-3 overtime loss at Washington.

Jagr, acquired from the Capitals on Jan. 23, has 12 goals and 24 points in 24 games with the Rangers.

New York’s penalty killing has been dismal over the past four games, allowing eight goals in 17 short-handed situations. The Rangers will be facing the league’s best power-play unit Saturday.

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