Avery, Betts power Rangers past Flyers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Flyers’ blown third-period lead cost
them a win and a stay at home.

Jeff Carter, Danny Briere and the rest of the Flyers are packing
their bags for Pittsburgh for the first round of the playoffs.

Sean Avery and Blair Betts scored third-period goals to rally
the New York Rangers to a 4-3 win over the Flyers on Sunday,
spoiling Philadelphia’s shot at home-ice advantage against
Pittsburgh in its opening playoff series.

“We were going to have to play there at some point anyway,”
Briere said. “If we get to a Game 7, we’ll talk it about if we
get there.”

The Flyers (99 points) needed only a point in the finale to
secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and home ice in
the best-of-seven series with Pittsburgh. Instead, the rematch
from last season’s conference finals will start in Pittsburgh.
The Flyers went 2-2-2 against the No. 4 seed Penguins and three
of the games were decided by one goal.

“I think this group has always found a way to do it the hard
way, but they have always found a way to do it,” Flyers coach
John Stevens said. “It’s an exciting matchup with great young
players on both teams and great stories throughout the year on
both teams.”

The Rangers are the No. 7 seed and have a first-round matchup
with Southeast Division champion Washington.

New York already knew its seed and matchup, and gamely tried to
send the Flyers packing for Pittsburgh. Avery tied it at 3 on a
slap shot past Martin Biron early in the third, with the goal
announcement drowned out by boos and derogatory chants aimed at
the instigator.

Only minutes later, Betts took the loose puck and scored his
sixth goal midway through the period for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers
pressured Henrik Lundqvist the rest of the way. They couldn’t
get that crucial tying goal and the angry crowd booed as the
Flyers skated off the ice.

Avery tangled with Scott Hartnell near the benches at the end of
the game.

“We talked about it before the game about going into the
playoffs winning a few games in a row, feeling really good about
ourselves, and a win on the road,” Lundqvist said. “It’s a lot
of good things.”

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The Flyers won 20 games on the road this season and reached the
Eastern Conference finals last year without home ice in either
of their three series. Still, all they needed was a tie against
the Rangers to maybe make the championship road a bit easier.

“We should have had the mentality of going out there and get a
two-goal lead or three-goal lead,” Briere said. “We just sat
back and waited to see what was going to happen.”

Carter capped a career season with his 46 goals, second only to
Washington’s Alex Ovechkin’s 56 in the NHL. He enters the
postseason on a sizzling hot streak with five goals and eight
points in his last six games and a point in 10 of his last 14

He won a four-player fight for the puck along the boards, skated
into the circle and whizzed the puck past Lundqvist for a 2-1
lead in the second period.

Carter should be happy to see the Penguins on the playoff
bracket: He has three goals and eight points against them this

Brandon Dubinsky scored two goals for the Rangers and spoiled
Philadelphia’s season-long streak of not allowing a short-handed
goal. His second goal of the game was short-handed, wrecking
Philadelphia’s shot of becoming the first team in NHL history to
play an entire season without allowing one. The Flyers’ streak
of 103 straight games without surrendering a short-handed goal
was the longest since Montreal went 122 games from March 1975 to
November 1976.

Briere had an assist on Claude Giroux’s ninth goal of the season
in the first period, and scored one of his own off a deflection
in the second to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.

Dubinsky’s first goal of the game came off on a fortuitous
bounce. Derek Morris’ shot from the blue line appeared to
deflect off the skate of Flyers defenseman Matt Carle and scoot
through Biron’s legs and tie it 1-1.

“I thought we showed a lot of character by coming down here and
winning this game,” Rangers forward Markus Naslund said.

Stop that shot and maybe the Flyers are looking at overtime. Now
they’re looking at a trip to Pittsburgh.