PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Beating the New York Rangers on the final day of the regular season sent the Philadelphia Flyers on a run to the Stanley Cup finals.
It also sent the Rangers home for the summer.
The bitter Atlantic Division rivals will meet for the first time since their season-ending showdown in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
The Flyers (7-4-1) and Rangers (6-4-1) last faced each other April 11 in Philadelphia with the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at stake. Philadelphia outlasted New York 2-1 in a shootout to claim the berth before making an improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals, where it fell to Chicago in six games.
New York was left to regroup after missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.
Both clubs are now playing like they want to lock up playoff spots earlier this time.
Philadelphia defeated Carolina 3-2 on Monday, and is now seeking its first five-game winning streak since Feb. 8-March 2. Also Monday, the Rangers beat the reigning champion Blackhawks by the same score.
“Everyone contributed (Monday), and the biggest strength to me is that this is a team and everybody is playing for one another,” Rangers coach John Tortorella told the team’s official website. “That’s a good thing here early in the year, and we have to keep building on it.”
Forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are providing some of the biggest contributions.
Dubinsky, who scored twice on assists from Callahan on Monday, has a team-high seven goals after tallying a career-high 20 last season. Callahan leads the club with 13 points, including 11 during a career-best seven-game streak.
The duo combined for only one goal and one assist in last season’s six games against the Flyers, which the teams split.
Henrik Lundqvist, who made 33 saves Monday, started each game against Philadelphia in 2009-10. He went 1-1-1 with a 1.31 GAA in three games at Wells Fargo Center, including a 46-save effort in the season finale before allowing two goals on three shootout attempts.
The Flyers will try to solve Lundqvist in their second game without Danny Briere, who was suspended three games for a cross-check on Frans Nielsen in Saturday’s 6-1 win over the New York Islanders.
Scott Hartnell equaled his previous goal production for the season by netting two Monday against the Hurricanes, softening the blow of Briere’s absence.
“We don’t change things up from line to line,” Hartnell said. “We try to play relentless Flyers hockey, get it in, cycle, change sides and get to the net. When we’re doing that, we’re a real effective hockey team.”
Claude Giroux scored the winning shootout attempt in the last meeting with the Rangers, and went on to accumulate 21 points in the playoffs – third behind Briere’s team-high 30.
The right wing has picked up where he left off, leading Philadelphia with seven goals and 12 points. He has four goals and three assists during the Flyers’ four-game winning streak.
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