Rangers aim to snap skid vs. Flyers
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The goals are coming often for the Philadelphia Flyers and so are the wins.
The goals are coming infrequently for the New York Rangers and the losses are piling up.
The Flyers seek a fifth straight win Tuesday night when they head to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers, who were outscored 12-4 in their last two home games.
From Nov. 11 to Dec. 2, Philadelphia lost 10 straight (0-5-5) while getting outscored 36-20. Starting with a 5-2 win at Calgary on Dec. 4, the Flyers are on a 12-4-1 roll and have outscored opponents 58-43.
During their current four-game winning streak, the Flyers have totaled 21 goals and it continued Saturday with a 5-3 win at New Jersey.
Sean Couturier scored twice and added an assist, giving him three straight multi-goal games and 11 of his 25 goals during Philadelphia's last 17 games.
"It's every night," Philadelphia right winger Travis Konecny told reporters. "You get used to it. The whole first half -- it doesn't surprise me when he does things like that."
Claude Giroux added two assists and has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in the last four games and 26 of his 54 points (three goals, 23 assists) in the last 17.
The Flyers played Saturday without Shayne Gostisbehere, whose 32 points are among the most by a defenseman. Gostisbehere, who has five goals and five assists in his last 11 games, sat out Saturday recovering from the flu but practiced Monday and is expected to play Tuesday.
Philadelphia's surge has given them 48 points, one point behind the Rangers and 11 behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.
"Obviously, you look at the standings and it's a pretty big game," Giroux told reporters after practice Monday. "Especially at home, they find ways to get wins and at the same time it's a good test for us."
Giroux's comments are partially correct as the Rangers are 15-8-3 at home. New York, however, was outscored 12-4 in its last two home games, a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Jan. 3 and Saturday's 7-2 loss to the New York Islanders.
Those performances are part of a slump that has lasted for nearly a month. Since winning three straight from Dec. 15 to Dec. 19, the Rangers are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.
After getting blown out by the Islanders on Saturday, New York followed with a 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Rangers allowed 47 shots and it was the 14th straight game they allowed at least 30 shots.
"In my mind, it's not a couple of games," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "In this past month, I think the level is just not high enough. You almost get tired of sitting here trying to find the right thing to say.
"This was a step in the right direction. We had more energy, but it comes down to awareness, just being on your toes. We have to come together and start playing our best hockey if we want to stay in the race."
Michael Grabner scored his team-leading 19th goal but only two are in the last 10 games.
Others are mired in lengthy droughts, such as Rick Nash, who has not scored in 12 games, or Mats Zuccarello, whose goal drought reached 10 games.
New York played without defenseman Ryan McDonagh (back spasms) and Kevin Hayes (leg contusion). The Rangers did not practice Monday, so their status will become clearer after the morning skate Tuesday.
Before this skid, the Rangers recovered from a 3-7-2 start by going 16-5-1 in their next 22, which is what they're banking on going into the first meeting with the Flyers.
"Early on in the season when we had our struggles, we stuck together, and we got out of it," Nash said. "We're not having the consistent hockey that we want to right now. But we believe in here, and we're a team. And we can't start to separate."
The Rangers won three of four meetings last season with the Flyers. They are 6-1 in the last seven meetings and 12-2 in the last home matchup dating to March 6, 2011.
Updated January 15, 2018