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The most EXCITING 3rd period -n- OT in RANGER HOCKEY last nite!!!!! HOLLY JAGR............

PHILADELPHIA - The New York Rangers aren't satisfied with simply returning to the playoffs for the first time since Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were starring on Broadway.

Instead, the resurgent Rangers have their sights on winning the Atlantic Division.

Jaromir Jagr scored 1:24 into overtime and the Rangers beat Philadelphia 4-3 on Saturday to move one point ahead of the Flyers for first place.

Petr Sykora scored with 41.1 seconds left in regulation to force the extra period and Marcel Hossa and Michael Nylander also scored for New York, which trailed the Flyers by nine points less than one month ago.

``I didn't really look at it as a fight for first place,'' said Jagr, who has 35 goals. ``I just wanted to make sure our team was able to beat a good team.''

The victory may be costly for the Rangers, who lost rookie forward Petr Prucha to a knee injury. Prucha's status won't be known until he's re-evaluated on Sunday, though he could be out awhile.

Mike Knuble had two goals and Jeff Carter also scored for struggling Philadelphia, which is 3-4-3 since going 8-2-1 on an 11-game road trip.

``We're disappointed,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``We played a great game. We deserved a better fate. It's the best game we've played in a month.''

Jagr one-timed a shot from inside the left circle past goaltender Robert Esche to give the Rangers their third straight victory and seventh in nine games.

With the goalie pulled in the final minute, Sykora scored the tying goal by deflecting a slap shot from Martin Rucinsky.

``I didn't think we were going to tie the game,'' Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. ``But we did with a lucky bounce. We kept working hard the whole game. We came back and we deserved it.''

The injury-depleted Flyers, who haven't played with a full lineup this season, lost two more players. Center Petr Nedved left with a strained groin and defenseman Chris Therien went out with a head injury.

Philadelphia remains without star center Peter Forsberg (groin), former captain Keith Primeau (concussion), and defensemen Eric Desjardins (shoulder) and Kim Johnsson (concussion symptoms).

Despite having one of the league's highest payrolls every year and a lineup filled with All-Stars, the Rangers haven't been to the playoffs since 1997. Many experts picked them to finish dead last in the NHL, while Philadelphia was the prohibitive favorite to win the division this season.

But New York started strong and led the division early before cooling off. The Flyers caught the Rangers and built a solid advantage during their record-setting road trip.

``We are fighting through a lot of adversity,'' Hitchcock said. ``We lost a couple more guys and guys are digging in.''

The Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation and beat the Rangers in overtime on Monday. They fell behind 2-0 again, but didn't need to wait for late-game heroics this time.

Knuble cut it to 2-1 with 4:38 left in the second period. Knuble, standing in front, took a pass from Mike Richards, turned and lifted it over Lundqvist's shoulder.

Carter tied it at 2 on his 13th goal just 2 seconds after the Flyers wasted their fifth power-play opportunity early in the third. Carter's shot from the right circle went through a screen and trickled past Lundqvist.

Richards also set up Knuble's second goal, skating along the near boards and sending a perfect pass to the streaking Knuble, who slipped a shot past Lundqvist for his 25th goal.

Hossa gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the first period when he one-timed a crossing pass from Jason Ward past the outstretched leg of Esche for his eighth goal.

Nylander's power-play goal in the second made it 2-0. Jagr set it up with a crisp, crossing pass from inside the left circle to Nylander, who beat Esche with a hard slap shot.

Enforcers Donald Brashear and Colton Orr squared off midway through the second, with Philadelphia's Brashear landing a few solid lefts and knocking Orr's helmet off, drawing a loud ovation from the sellout crowd.

Notes: Philadelphia is 0-for-17 on the power play in its last four games. ... The Flyers have won just six of 18 games against teams in first or second place. ... The Rangers are 4-4-2 against the four other teams in the top five in the Eastern Conference. ... The Flyers are 5-5-2 without Forsberg, who leads the team with 62 points. ... Knuble is only five goals short of tying his career-high of 30 with Boston in the 2002-03 season.

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Clarke still cannot find a decent dentist and you think he can find a decent goalie? And he hasn't had one since Hextall copped a mope.

Bugg: I'm naive. Enlighten me. WTF does 'copped a mope' mean?

btw: Derek Jeter has the BEST smile in the entire world. Bobby Clarke, without any teeth, has the second best.

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The Flyers are thankful for Olympic break the way they are going- do not look back the Devils will pass you up

There's gotta be a shakeup SOON for my sorry team. We gotta get rid of Therien and Brashear. They are wasted space. And fire Hitch.

Thank goodness for the All-Star break. It can't come soon enough.

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There's gotta be a shakeup SOON for my sorry team. We gotta get rid of Therien and Brashear. They are wasted space. And fire Hitch.

Thank goodness for the All-Star break. It can't come soon enough.

Your sorry team is just 1.5 games back in the division, they aint that bad. There still a ways to go before the playoffs.

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