Monday, April 4, 2011

Fighting For Eighth

The Rangers' playoff dreams died in a shootout loss in Philadelphia last April on the final day of the regular season.

One year later, they just might have saved their season in the same locale, solidifying their hold on the final playoff spot in the East with a 3-2 shootout victory Sunday over the Flyers.

Combined with Carolina's overtime loss Sunday night to Buffalo, the Rangers hold a two-point lead over the Hurricanes and are one point behind the No.7 Sabres with three games remaining, including a home match Monday night against Boston.

"It's a little different situation, but not for us," said All-Star defenseman Marc Staal. "I had a good feeling going into the shootout that we were going to pull it off. We've been good all year long.

The Rangers are 9-3 in shootouts this season -- tied for the most wins in the league -- even if coach John Tortorella still is no fan of the NHL's tiebreaker system.

"Yes I do. They should disband them completely," Tortorella responded when asked after Sunday's win if he still dislikes shootouts. "We've been fortunate we've done them, and we've won some this year. It's still not the way to decide a hockey game. I think we have the best in the business but the National Hockey League, you don't decide games this way."

RANGERS 3, FLYERS 2 (SO): John Tortorella insisted he didn't have any flashbacks to last year when the Rangers and Flyers ended 60 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime still tied. The Rangers' season ended with a shootout loss in Philadelphia last April, but little-used forward Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen scored in the skills competition Sunday in support of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who added two more shootout saves to the 32 stops he made over 65 minutes to secure two huge points for the Blueshirts in the tightening Eastern Conference playoff race.

"We're just looking for points," Tortorella said. "I think we've got one of the best (goalies). I thought the key save was on (Claude) Giroux, that second one was a key one. Hank stood in there really strong for us today."

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