'Lucky' goal dooms fading Flyers

    With their 4-3 loss to the host New York Rangers Friday, the Flyers put themselves in an unthinkable position: On the verge of missing the playoffs.
     The Flyers, who could have climbed to sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a win, remained in eighth. They and the ninth-place Rangers each have 86 points, but the Flyers are ahead because of the tie-breaker (most wins).
     The Flyers will host the Rangers Sunday afternoon in a game that will determine both teams’ playoff fates.
    “We like our chances at home,” said defenseman Chris Pronger, who had one of his worst games of the season Friday.
    Marian Gaborik’s goal late in the second period gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead and proved to be the game-winner.
    Gaborik’s shot deflected off the stick of defenseman Matt Carle and over goalie Brian Boucher’s glove.
    “I got a lucky bounce,” Gaborik said.
    The Rangers fell behind, 1-0, on a goal by Mike Richards after 40 seconds. But New York regrouped and built a 3-1 lead.
   “We didn’t panic. We stuck to our game plan,” Gaborik said. “We talked about making sure we didn’t give them a lot of space going through the neutral zone, and we didn’t give them odd-man rushes.”
   The Flyers have have lost eight of their last 11. New York is on a 7-1-1 run.

   “If anybody thought this was going to be easy, they were kidding themselves,” Boucher said. “It’s a tough building to come into, especially with them knowing their season is on the line and they’re going to be desperate.”
    The Rangers dominated the first period, outshooting the Flyers, 12-4, and building a 2-1 lead.
    "I can’t explain it. We knew they were going to come out hard,” said Danny Briere, who scored the Flyers’ second goal. “I expected us, with the guys that we have, to be ready and have a way-better first period. It’s too late now. We can’t change anything about it.”
    Actually, they can change things _ on Sunday.
    Breakaways. Richards had his 30th and 31st goals to pace the Flyers, who had 40 hits compared to the Rangers’ 29…..The Flyers won 31 of 55 (56 percent) of the faceoffs……Jeff Carter returned from a broken foot and had three shots and no goals in 16:16. Afterward, Carter refused to talk to the media…..The Flyers were 0 for 2 on the power play, while NY was 1 for 4…..Braydon Coburn and Arron Asham each had five hits for the Flyers.....Hard to believe: The Flyers (40-35-6) have more losses (41) than wins (40).

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