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RANGERS (33-24-3) at FLYERS (30-24-6)
TV: MSG, CSN-PH
Last 10: New York 7-3-0; Philadelphia 5-5-0
Season series: The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers play the third of four games. The teams split the first two with each winning on home ice.
Big story: The Rangers travel to Philadelphia three points ahead of the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division with an opportunity to create more distance from their longtime rivals. Philadelphia comes off a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks and has dropped 12 of its past 15 against New York, with all three victories coming at home.
"Prior to [Thursday] night there's a team that, a little bit like us, had a challenging start and really turned their season around," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's going to be a tough game. It's a divisional opponent and points are hard to come by. We're going into a tough environment, so it's going to be a good game.
The Rangers received good news Friday when defenseman Dan Girardi signed what TSN's Darren Dreger reported to be a six-year, $33 million contract extension.
Rangers: New York has won six of its past seven games, the latest behind a strong effort from backup goalie Cam Talbot in a 2-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, a victory that continued the momentum the Rangers generated entering the Olympic break.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist will start his first game since helping Sweden to a silver medal.
"We have to expect a tough game, every time you go into that building they are ready to play," Lundqvist said. "We have to play our best. The guys here are aware of how important this stretch is and are focusing really well."
Flyers: Philadelphia's loss to the Sharks on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center snapped a four-game winning streak. The Sharks scored five goals in the second period, tying the season high for a Flyers opponent in one period, and the seven goals were the most Philadelphia allowed at home this season. It was also the third time the Flyers allowed seven goals in 2013-14, but coach Craig Berube is counting on his team to bounce back.
"This team has a lot of character," Berube said. "I expect a big game against the Rangers, I really do."
Who's hot: Rangers forward Derick Brassard has four goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak, which is tied for the longest by a Ranger this season. Forward Rick Nash's game-winning goal Thursday gave him eight goals in his past 11 games. Forward Benoit Pouliot has four points in his past three games and six in his past seven. Center Derek Stepan has nine points in his past 11 and forward Carl Hagelin five in his past seven … Flyers forward Claude Giroux has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five games. Center Brayden Schenn has goals in his past two.
Injury report: Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello (broken left hand) skated and took shots at practice Friday. "I'm feeling better and better every day," he said. "I feel much better today than I did 3-4 days ago." … Flyers goalie Ray Emery (lower body) was forced from the game Thursday and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. CNSPhilly.com reported Emery tweaked his groin. The Flyers called up Cal Heeter from Adirondack of the AHL on an emergency basis.
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL
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