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Rangers host Flyers, seek elusive home victory

Entering Sunday's game with the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers find themselves with one goal remaining in the regular season.

They need to win a game again on home ice.

It is more than a month since the Rangers (46-26-6) last earned a victory at The Garden. Since Feb. 19, the Rangers are winless in eight straight games at home following Friday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I feel like our last two games at home were real good, but we just came out on the other side of it," Rangers alternate captain Derek Stepan said to the team's website. "It's a step in the right direction. We're just focused on doing the right things; and we'll worry about the results when we get to the playoffs."

Five of the eight losses at home were one-goal games, including the last four in a row, providing Stepan and his team some measure of hope that the Rangers are on the verge of breaking through at the Garden.

However, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault sees a consistent reason as to why the losses are piling up for his club on home ice, and why that needs to change starting with Sunday's tilt against the Flyers (38-32-8).

"We haven't played 60 minutes," Vigneault said. "We need to play a full 60 minutes. We've had some real good moments where we've played some good hockey (at home), but we just haven't been able to sustain it. Our intention is to change that."

On Friday, the Rangers erased a 3-1 third-period deficit on goals by Rick Nash and Chris Kreider to earn a hard-fought point despite losing in the shootout. New York has 98 points, two shy of a franchise-record third consecutive season with 100 or more.

The Rangers have four games remaining in the regular season, including two at home where they will try to snap the losing streak before the playoffs begin next week.

"Yes, that is something we would like to do," Vigneault said.

Henrik Lundqvist makes his fourth straight start in goal for the Rangers, coming off a terrific 32-save effort against the Penguins. Since returning to action after a near three-week absence because of a hip injury, Lundqvist has mixed results with a 0-1-2 record and 13 goals allowed.

Since the Rangers did not practice Saturday, it is not known if team captain Ryan McDonagh will face the Flyers after missing Friday's contest because of an unspecified ailment.

While the Rangers already secured their seventh consecutive playoff berth, the desperate Flyers cling to faint postseason hopes heading into the final week of play.

The Flyers shut out the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Saturday for their fourth consecutive victory. They trail the eighth-place Boston Bruins by six points with four games remaining on their schedule, and with four teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.

In a frightening moment Saturday, goaltender Michal Neuvirth collapsed in his crease during a face off at the other end of the ice early in the third period. After being attended to by team medical personnel, Neuvirth was stretchered from the ice and taken to a nearby hospital where Flyers general manager Ron Hextall reported Neuvirth was alert and resting comfortably.

Rookie Anthony Stolarz replaced Neuvirth between the pipes and stopped all 26 shots he faced to finish off the shutout.

"There was a lot going on here (Saturday night)," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after the game. "I really like the way the guys stayed together and stuck with it."

Stolarz arrived shortly before game time Saturday, recalled from the minor leagues on an emergency basis because Steve Mason was ill. It is not yet known if Mason is available Sunday.

Also in question is the availability of defenseman Radko Gudas, who did not play in the third period against the Devils because of an upper-body injury.

Brayden Schenn, Colin McDonald and Jordan Weal scored for the Flyers on Saturday. Schenn is second on the team with 24 goals and Weal has goals in four straight games, and seven in his last 13 contests.

"I'm just trying to work hard and put my best foot forward," Weal said on the team's web site. "Nothing is giving to you here. You have to keep working hard all the time; and that's what I'm trying to do, work hard."

Sunday might feature the NHL debut of Mike Vecchione, the Hobey Baker finalist out of Union College who signed as a free agent with the Flyers earlier in the week. Vecchione was the ECAC Player of the Year this past season when he scored 29 goals and 63 points.

"You wait your whole life for this," Vecchione said to Philly.com. "I just want to run through the playbook, talk to coach, and see where I fit in, see what role I will play. It's a lot to cover in a couple of days."

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