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Carter, Richards score in shootout to lead Flyers to 4-3 win over Rangers

PHILADELPHIA - Danny Briere understands why teams like the New York Rangers might feel confident in a tight game against the Flyers late in the third period.

"We've blown a few leads lately, everyone knows that," he said.

This time, the Flyers shook off their inevitable breakdown as Mike Richards and Jeff Carter each scored in the shootout and Briere had two goals in the third period to lead Philadelphia to a 4-3 win over the Rangers on Friday night.

"I'm hoping that's what is going to get us on a roll," Briere said.

Briere scored the goal that should have let the Flyers win this one in regulation when he put them up 3-2 on his 28th goal with about 3 1/2 minutes left. He crashed headfirst into the net when his first goal of the third gave them a 2-0 lead. Philadelphia blew that one, too.

No surprise for team that has made a dangerous habit of letting late leads slip away.

"They kept coming back on us," Richards said.

Jaromir Jagr scored a tough goal with under two minutes remaining to force overtime.

The Flyers were abysmal in shootouts this season and they worked on them at the end of practice Thursday.

The Flyers improved to 2-5 in shootouts when Richards and Carter scored on Philadelphia's first two shots. Martin Biron stopped Nigel Dawes and Brendan Shanahan and the Flyers won for the second time in seven games against the Rangers.

Philadelphia jumped over Boston into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with seven games left. The Rangers are sixth in the East, but closed within three points of New Jersey and Pittsburgh - the co-leaders in the Atlantic Division.

"To have a big win in a shootout and to pick up two points is very important to us right now," Biron said.

New York played most of the game without leading scorer Scott Gomez (67 points). Gomez fell early in the first period, crashed into the boards behind the net shoulder-first, and didn't return. Gomez said he fell when his skate picked the ice on a shot.

"My ankle hurt a little bit so they're concerned about that," Gomez said.

Without him, the Rangers failed to generate much offence on Biron until Marek Malik and Dawes scored 1:48 apart in the third to tie it at two.

Briere's 27th goal midway through the second gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead behind Biron's solid effort. Philadelphia coach John Stevens challenged his goalies this week to step up their games and said, "We need our goalie to be our best player from this point on."

Biron was up to the challenge until New York tagged him with two goals in the short span that resulted in boos.

Malik scored his second of the season on a slapshot from above the circle. Then Dawes scored his 12th goal from the high slot with 6:11 left. The puck appeared to tick off defenceman Patrick Thoresen's leg and caromed into the net.

"You could sense that they were desperate and it was a big game for them," Shanahan said. "You could sense that the building felt confident and we answered back."

Briere, though, was set to win it in the third.

Briere has had some challenges his first season in Philadelphia and even was booed for a spell from fans expecting more from the big ticket free-agent acquisition. The crowd erupted when he knocked in a loose puck with 3:37 left in regulation and crashed head first into the net.

Briere's smile and the celebration was short lived.

In recent weeks, the Flyers blew a lead to Florida with 3.7 seconds left in regulation and lost in overtime, squandered a 3-0 lead in the third period and lost to Toronto, and came within a blade of blowing a two-goal lead to Atlanta on Tuesday.

Jagr delivered the crucial comeback goal in this one and in most improbable fashion. He backhanded in a rebound off an impossible angle and evened the score.

The Rangers, though, couldn't score again and the Flyers survived another close call.

"The thing I liked was that we kept going and kept attacking," Briere said. "We didn't play scared and that's the way it's got to be for us down the stretch."

Richards' breakaway goal early in the first period was enough to spoil Steve Valiquette's starting shutout streak against the Flyers. Valiquette made a combined 51 saves in two shutout victories over the Flyers and came off the bench to beat them earlier this month (17-for-18).

"He kept them in the game, he made some big saves, but at the end of the night we were able to beat them," Briere said.

Notes: The Flyers snapped a seven-game home losing streak against the Rangers (1-5-2). ... Flyers F Vaclav Prospal had two assists. ... Jagr had two points and tied Phil Esposito for ninth place on the career points list at 1,590. ... The Flyers went 0-for-6 on the power play.


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