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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, March 21st (All times eastern)

Philadelphia Flyers (20-42-11) at New York Rangers (36-28-9), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Rangers will try to build on the momentum of a big win when they welcome the lowly Philadelphia Flyers to Madison Square Garden tonight.

The Rangers are fighting for their playoff lives and helped their cause with a dramatic victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. Jaromir Jagr scored with just 33.8 seconds left in the contest to lift New York to the 2-1 triumph over the Penguins.

New York has 81 points and is currently occupying the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers are three points behind sixth-place Tampa Bay and just one point ahead of Carolina, Toronto and Montreal.

With time winding down in Monday's contest, Jagr skated the puck into the Pittsburgh end down the right wing and threw the puck out front in an attempt to get it to Michael Nylander. The puck tipped off of the stick of Pittsburgh's Robert Scuderi and went into the Pittsburgh net.

Blair Betts scored the other New York goal and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots for the Rangers, who have won two straight and have points in nine of their last 10 games (6-1-3).

The Rangers could receive a huge boost this evening, as All-Star forward Brendan Shanahan is expected to make his return from a concussion suffered on February 17 against Philadelphia.

Shanahan and the Flyers' Mike Knuble were involved in a vicious collision in which both players were left with major injuries. Shanahan was kept overnight in the hospital with his concussion, while Knuble suffered fractures to his cheek orbital bones. Knuble missed 12 games with the injury, but has played in the last three tests for Philadelphia.

Despite missing the last 15 contests, the 38-year-old Shanahan still leads the Rangers with 28 goals this season. He is fourth on the club with 54 total points.

This evening's test wraps up a three-game homestand for the Rangers, who are 18-15-5 as the host this year and have won five of their last six tilts at MSG.

The Flyers lost for the fourth time in five games on Tuesday evening, as they were handed a 4-1 home setback by the Florida Panthers. Olli Jokinen's goal late in the second period provided the difference, and Ed Belfour made 24 saves to backstop Florida's win at the Wachovia Center.

Dimitry Afanasenkov tallied the only goal for the lowly Flyers, while Martin Biron allowed four goals on 34 shots in the losing effort. Philadelphia, which has been handed defeats in 11 of their last 15 contests, wasted six power-play chances on Tuesday.

The Panthers' victory gave the club its first-ever season sweep (4-0-0) over the Flyers, a rivalry that stretches back to the Panthers' 1993 inception.

This evening's contest is one of just three remaining road games on the schedule for Philadelphia. The Flyers are 12-22-4 as the visiting team this year and have dropped four straight and seven of their last eight tests away from the City of Brotherly Love.

The Rangers have taken four of six encounters with Philly this season and seven of the last 11 overall matchups between the clubs. However, the road team has taken 12 of the last 15 matchups in the series and the Flyers have walked away with a victory in eight of their last 10 trips to MSG.

03/21 11:53:30 ET

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