Ottawa (51-21-9) at New York (44-25-12)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Las Vegas, NV
Temp: 96° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EDT Tue Apr 18, 2006
  • TV: RSN, MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Rangers get one last chance to claim their first division title in 12 years.

The Rangers take a four-game losing streak into their season finale against the Ottawa Senators, but a win would secure first place in the Atlantic Division and a third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

New York’s lead in the Atlantic has slipped to a point over Philadelphia and New Jersey, and both of those teams hold head-to-head tiebreakers over the Rangers. New York led the Flyers by five points and the Devils by nine before the start of its four-game skid, which includes losses to both clubs.

At the same time the Rangers are hosting the Senators, the Flyers will be closing the regular season on the road against the New York Islanders, while the Devils will be finishing their schedule in Montreal.

Philadelphia could have moved in front of the Rangers on Sunday, but lost to New Jersey for the second time in four days to fall into a second-place tie. The Devils’ victory was their 10th straight, which kept them in position to win the division.

The Rangers’ most recent stumble was a 4-1 loss to the Flyers on Saturday. Four Flyers scored in the first 30 minutes to give Philadelphia a 4-0 lead before the Rangers’ Marcel Hossa scored on a power play at 11:38 of the second period.

Whatever momentum New York generated by getting on the board was slowed minutes later, though, as the Flyers’ Antero Niittymaki made a spectacular save on Petr Sykora’s breakaway to send the sellout crowd at the Wachovia Center into a frenzy.

“We did not attack the way we needed to,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said. “It started to get away from us when we fell behind. We didn’t put enough rubber at the net.”

The Rangers are looking for their first division title since 1993-94, the year they won their first Stanley Cup since 1940.

New York may have rookie goalie Henrik Lundqvist available after he missed seven straight games with a strained hip flexor. Lundqvist last played in a 4-1 loss to Ottawa on March 30.

The Senators also have struggled of late, going 1-4-2 since April 5 after winning 12 of 16 games in March. Ottawa has lost its hold on the top spot in the East and trails Carolina for home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs by one point.

While the Senators are visiting the Rangers with the No. 1 seed at stake, Carolina will be hosting Buffalo and can end Ottawa’s hopes of finishing first in the conference with a win.

The Senators didn’t help their cause Saturday, losing 5-1 to Toronto. It was the fifth time during the seven-game slump that Ottawa allowed five or more goals.

“It seems like decades ago that we’ve played solid,” Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. “We’re not moving the puck. We’re trying to find a way to get our defense back.”

Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley have been productive during Ottawa’s struggles. Spezza has a goal and 11 assists during an eight-game point streak, while Heatley has four goals and four assists during a six-game run.

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