The Philadelphia Flyers might have turned their season around just in time to make a run at the playoffs.
They’ll be trying to win their fourth straight game on Sunday when they face another streaking team, the New York Rangers.
The Flyers (33-25-7) beat the New York Islanders 4-1 on Saturday, moving into sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia’s winning streak comes after a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2).
Scottie Upshall scored into an empty net with 27 seconds left, ending Philadelphia’s team record-tying 16-game streak of scoring three goals or fewer. Mike Knuble added a short-handed goal in the third period when Jeff Carter caromed a shot off him.
“We lost 10 in a row and we just couldn’t get those breaks,” Knuble said. “Now pucks are hitting guys and going in.”
The Flyers are just one point behind the Rangers (33-24-8), but jumping ahead of their Atlantic Division rivals on Sunday won’t be easy. New York has also won three straight and is 6-0-2 over its last eight.
“We really don’t have a choice right now,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 26 saves in Thursday’s 4-2 win over Carolina. “It’s so tight in the standings. Focus is important for us. We’re really playing our system.
“We’re playing well as a team, that’s why we we’re winning. We’re scoring when we get the opportunities. It’s very good for us.”
Lundqvist is 5-0-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average and one shutout in his last six starts.
“In the key moments when we need him, he stands so tall. The confidence goes from him right through everybody on the ice surface and to the bench,” coach Tom Renney told the Rangers’ official Web site. “We just understand that we’ve got the guy we need in the net to help us win this thing.”
Lundqvist is 8-3-1 with a 2.96 GAA in 13 career starts against the Flyers but lost 6-2 in his last meeting with them on Jan. 10 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers have defeated Philadelphia twice since then with backup Stephen Valiquette in net.
Flyers goalie Martin Biron, meanwhile, has started each of his team’s last three wins but said Saturday he wasn’t sure whether he would start against New York. He is 0-3-1 with a 2.89 GAA in his last five appearances against the Rangers.
Philadelphia, whose 22.8 power-play percentage is among the best in the league, scored on its only chance with the man advantage Saturday. Still, the Flyers have just three goals on 32 power-play chances over their last nine games.
The Rangers have yielded just two power-play goals on 16 chances in their last five games.
“We’re being smarter,” New York forward Brendan Shanahan said. “It was a lack of focus we had in the middle of the season. We’re doing those little things right, not taking penalties, a lot of that is good line changes and being good with your stick.”