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Trying to halt March badness, Flyers face improving Rangers

The slumping Philadelphia Flyers will hope to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when they host the New York Rangers on Thursday.

Despite a late flurry, the Flyers fell 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

During this skid — and for the last 13 games — turnovers, defensive miscues and shaky goaltending have plagued the Flyers.

The Flyers are 4-8-1 in March and have allowed an astonishing 57 goals.

“I don’t think we’re playing a full 60 minutes right now,” goaltender Carter Hart said. “We can’t just show up the last 10 minutes of the third and expect to win a game.”

Philadelphia is still two points behind the Boston Bruins for the fourth playoff spot in the East Division. But the Flyers have played three more games.

“We have a lot of confidence in our group,” captain Claude Giroux said. “I still think we’re going to make the playoffs. We need to be a little more consistent in our game, and it starts with me. You can’t play one good game and then one bad game and keep going like that.”

Sean Couturier scored two goals in the third period and nearly had a hat trick against the Devils. Another slow start put the Flyers in a 4-1 hole and they never fully recovered. This has been another troubling trend.

“We didn’t look like we had a lot of jump at the start of the game, and their speed and skill level showed,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “We didn’t seem like we had a lot in the tank.”

The much-improved Rangers will be searching for their third win in a row.

In their most recent game, they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Monday. It would have been easy to take the Sabres lightly as they lost for the 14th straight game, tying a franchise record.

Defenseman Adam Fox had one goal and two assists, and the Rangers stayed focused throughout.

“It’s a resilient group here,” Fox said. “Early in the year it was tough not winning games that we were going into the third with a lead. Against Washington (on Saturday) and this game we lost the lead but got it right back and didn’t really falter.”

Acting head coach Kris Knoblauch has been in charge for the last four games while the Rangers’ coaching staff has been out for COVID-19 reasons.

The response from the players has been impressive.

“They just seem really resilient and nothing fazing them right now,” Knoblauch said. “We did have a 3-1 lead; guys could have been upset and really worried, playing tight, but they didn’t. They just continued to play on.”

Like the Flyers, New York has had issues with slow starts at times.

“I feel like we kind of make it a little bit too complicated, we’re trying to do a little bit too much and obviously that can’t happen,” Mika Zibanejad said. “Even after one-nothing I think (goaltender) Keith (Kinkaid) saves us and keeps us in this game, and big ups to him. Obviously, it’s got to be a lot better, but we come away from this one with two points and we’re happy with that.”

–Field Level Media

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