Flyers-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

After battling for Eastern Conference supremacy last season, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are among the biggest disappointments in 2012-13.

Recent success has both teams gaining confidence, but the Rangers have held the edge in this series of late.

The Rangers attempt to match their longest winning streak of the season Tuesday night and extend their recent mastery over the Flyers.

New York (10-8-2) claimed the first seed in the East for last season's playoffs, edging out Philadelphia (11-11-1) by one point.

While one point separates the clubs this season, it's not even close to being the difference for such a lofty status. The Flyers hold at slight advantage on the Rangers for the conference's eighth and final playoff position.

Still, both clubs feel their headed in the right direction.

Philadelphia has won five of seven, following up Wednesday's 4-1 win over Washington with Saturday's 2-1 victory versus Ottawa. The team is hoping to get its first three-game winning streak as it reaches the season's midpoint.

"Lately, even in the games we've lost, we've felt we've created some chances," center Danny Briere said. "We've showed up, played hard. We just haven't gotten the results we wanted every single night, but I really feel we've been getting better since we started the season.

"That's what keeps us believing that we're a different team than we were, and a tough team to play against."

The Rangers may be feeling the same as they try to conclude this four-game homestand with a third consecutive win after dropping five of six (1-3-2).

They're finding success on the power play, converting 3 of 8 chances over the past two games after going 4 for 39 over the previous 12. New York scored twice on a five-minute major in Sunday's 3-2 shootout win over Buffalo.

"Even though we haven't scored a lot on it, I think the past couple of weeks, I think our movement has been better," coach John Tortorella said. "You score a couple goals (Sunday) to help you win a hockey game, hopefully that helps your confidence. That's what it's about. It's about guys just feeling good about their game, allowing themselves to play and just being creative."

Confidence seems to be present when the Rangers face the Flyers since they've won nine of the last 10 meetings, including a 2-1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 29. They've taken five straight there between the teams - their longest such streak since reeling off 11 in a row from Jan. 14, 1990-Nov. 4, 1992.

Rick Nash is giving the Rangers a spark with two goals and two assists in two games since returning from an undisclosed injury that forced him to miss four contests, during which New York went 0-3-1. The star left wing leads the team with 16 points in as many games, and has nine during a during a six-game points streak.

Brad Richards is expected to be in the lineup after the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta shoved him from behind, forcing him to go headfirst into the boards, creating the major that resulted in New York's key power play. Richards, who later returned to the game, has not scored a goal in his last 15 contests.

The center had eight points in six games against the Flyers last season, but has none in two games in 2012-13.

Jakub Voracek has six goals and nine assists in eight games. The right wing has five points in his last five games versus the Rangers, scoring a goal in the latest visit to MSG.

Philadelphia will be without Harry Zolnierczyk, who was suspended four games for his hit on Ottawa's Mike Lundin.

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