The New York Rangers will get another shot at clinching first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference when they visit the rival Philadelphia Flyers for tonight's clash at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers posted a regulation win over Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, meaning the Rangers only needed to record a point later that night against Boston to clinch the division and the top seed. However, the Bruins posted a 2-1 regulation victory in New York to lock up their third Northeast Division title in four years.
New York will again need only a point tonight to secure its first division title and No. 1 seed since 1994 -- the same year as the Rangers' last Stanley Cup title. The Blueshirts could also clinch those spots if Pittsburgh loses its game in Boston tonight.
The Flyers are also battling the Penguins for playoff positioning and enter today one point in back of Pittsburgh for the East's fourth seed. Philadelphia posted a 6-4 road win over the Pens on Sunday, and like Pittsburgh, the Flyers have three games left in the regular season. The Flyers can ensure they'll finish no lower than fifth in the conference with either a point tonight or a loss by New Jersey against the New York Islanders.
New York has dominated the Flyers this season, winning all five encounters to give the Rangers seven straight wins in this series. The Blueshirts have won by a 5-2 score in each of the last two meetings and New York has taken its last three games in Philadelphia, including a 3-2 win in this year's Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia is 21-12-6 as the host this year, while the Rangers are 23-11-5 on the road.
The Flyers fell behind the Penguins 2-0 in the first period on Sunday, but Philadelphia rallied for the win over the team that it will likely face in the first round of the playoffs. Philly tied the game at 2-2 by the end of the second period and then built a 5-2 edge before holding on for the win.
With the victory, the Flyers improved to 5-0-0 at Consol Energy Center since the Pens opened the building in October of 2010.
"They're good games," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said of the rivalry with Pittsburgh. "They go up and down and they're competitive. That's what we were lacking a bit in the first period, we weren't as competitive as we needed to be."
Claude Giroux finished with a goal and two assists to lead the Flyers. Jakub Voracek had two goals and an assist, former Penguin Max Talbot scored and added a helper, while Wayne Simmonds and Marc-Andre Bourdon also lit the lamp for Philadelphia. Sergei Bobrovsky posted 43 stops in the win.
Philadelphia did lose a pair of players to injury in Sunday's physical contest, as forward Danny Briere and defenseman Niklas Grossmann were forced to leave the contest. Grossmann was on the wrong end of a knee-to-knee collision with Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale in the first period and is expected to miss 7-to-10 days. Briere suffered a back contusion after absorbing a hit from Vitale in the game's final minutes and will sit out tonight's test at the least.
The Flyers have also played the last three games without No. 1 netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, who is dealing with a chip fracture in right foot. Bryzgalov, the NHL's Player of the Month for March, could return to the lineup tonight.
The Rangers led Boston by a 1-0 score after Marian Gaborik's 40th goal of the season at 4:33 of the opening period, but that would be New York's only goal in Sunday's 2-1 regulation loss. Patrice Bergeron netted the game-winner in the second period for the Bruins.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 shots in defeat, dropping his stellar record this season to 38-17-5.
"It's always a one-goal game against these guys," Lundqvist said. "They are really good through the neutral zone, and in their defensive zone they are really stingy."
The Rangers will play their final road game of the regular season Thursday in Pittsburgh. New York will then finish at home in Saturday's game against Washington.
The Flyers, meanwhile, will complete their home schedule Thursday against Buffalo and then visit the Penguins again for their regular-season finale on Saturday.