The New York Rangers currently hold a slight edge for home-ice advantage in a potential first-round playoff matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Judging by the recent meetings at Madison Square Garden, that could turn out to be a major benefit.
New York seeks an eighth consecutive home victory over Philadelphia as the clubs continue to jostle for postseason position Wednesday night.
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The Rangers (40-29-4) have won four straight to grab a one-point lead over the Flyers (38-26-7) for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia has two games in hand on New York as the rivals try to hold off Washington and Columbus for the Metropolitan’s last two guaranteed playoff spots, with Pittsburgh likely to win the division.
This is the final regular-season meeting between the Flyers and Rangers, who lost both visits to Philadelphia this season but won 4-1 on Jan. 12 at MSG. They’ve outscored the Flyers 28-8 during their seven-game home win streak in the series, their longest since winning 11 straight from 1990-92.
Coach Craig Berube is aware of that recent history but doesn’t seem concerned.
"We’re a different team. I don’t even think about that," said Berube, whose club is 4-0-1 in its last five on the road. "We’re going to go up there and give them our best game. That’s what I believe."
Henrik Lundqvist has started each of the seven victories while posting a 1.14 goals-against average, and he has a 1.78 GAA in his last nine starts overall while going 7-2-0.
New York overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in Monday’s 4-3 overtime victory over Phoenix at MSG. Dan Girardi scored the tying goal with 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation before fellow defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored the winner less than two minutes into overtime.
Each assisted on the other’s goals.
"If you want to score in this league, you have to get help from your back end," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We’ll have another day here to get our energy level back up and get ready for a tough game against Philly."
The Rangers had dropped three of their previous four at home, but they seem to be peaking at the right time. They’ll begin a four-game West Coast trip following this contest.
"It’s a huge character win all around," Girardi said. "Battling back twice from being down says a lot about our team. There was no panic on our bench."
Philadelphia will be looking to bounce back after having its five-game winning streak end with Monday’s 3-2 loss to Los Angeles. It battled back from a 2-0 deficit before allowing the winner midway through the third period.
Matt Read and Jakub Voracek scored in the third, but Philadelphia wasn’t nearly at its best through the first two periods.
"It’s disappointing how good we’ve played the last couple weeks to play so bad," said Scott Hartnell, who assisted on Voracek’s goal. "We’re still in a good spot and we just have to refocus."
Ray Emery made 38 saves against the Kings, though Steve Mason could be back in net for this contest.
Mason has won four consecutive starts with a 1.50 GAA and three straight against the Rangers with a 1.67 mark, but he has a 4.88 in two career starts at MSG.
Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist and Mason made 33 saves as the Flyers beat the Rangers 4-2 in the most recent meeting March 1.