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Flyers edge Penguins, move within three points of Rangers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Though they play better on the road, the
Philadelphia Flyers are desperately trying to earn home-ice
advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

With four games remaining, it's simple for Philadelphia: Win out
and secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Jeff Carter's power-play goal with 6:32 left in the third period
lifted the Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on
Tuesday night.

The Flyers wasted a 3-0 lead, but earned the victory to move
within three points of the Atlantic Division-leading New York
Rangers. The Rangers have just three games left, including one
meeting between the teams. Philadelphia is fifth in the East, two
points ahead of New Jersey with two road games left against the
Devils.

"I've seen our fans just will us in playoff games," coach Ken
Hitchcock said. "I think home-ice is something you need. It's very
important. It's real difficult when you constantly have to win road
games in the playoffs."

The Flyers are 21-13-6 at the Wachovia Center, with only
Saturday's game against the Rangers left at home. They are 22-11-5
on the road.

Simon Gagne scored his 45th goal and Joni Pitkanen and Brian
Savage also scored for the Flyers, who were without star center
Peter Forsberg for the third straight game because of a groin
injury.

"It's a big win for us because we have a chance to win the
division," Pitkanen said. "We've had a tough time at home. Maybe
we feel a little more pressure. If you're going to win in the
playoffs, you have to win both (home and away)."

Michel Ouellet, Ryan Whitney and Sidney Crosby scored for
Pittsburgh, which already secured the worst record in the
conference.

After giving up three straight goals, the Flyers went ahead when
their dismal special teams came through.

Freddy Meyer took a slap shot from the point that deflected off
Niko Dimitrakos. Carter, standing at the side of the net, tucked
the puck in for his 22nd goal to give the Flyers a one-goal lead.

"It was just kind of bouncing around out there," Carter said.

Robert Esche preserved it with several outstanding saves in a
frantic final minute. Esche made 23 saves in his fourth start in
five games for the Flyers, though Hitchcock hasn't announced
whether Esche or Antero Niittymaki will be the playoff starter.

"Goaltending is the least of our problems," Hitchcock said.
"Right now, we have to have a killer instinct."

Just 1:23 after falling behind 3-0, Ouellet's power-play goal
cut it to 3-1 in the second period.

The Penguins closed to 3-2 when Whitney scored just 92 seconds
into the third period. Whitney took a behind-the-net pass from
Crosby and lifted it just under the crossbar.

Five seconds after failing to score on a power play, the
Penguins tied it at 3 on Crosby's 37th goal 8:16 into the third.

"We've been there a lot this year. We've fallen behind and
climbed our way back, but it seems like one mistake we make and
sometimes it costs us," Crosby said.

The Flyers scored their first two goals during 4-on-4 situations
after penalties wiped out two of their four power-play
opportunities in the second period.

Petr Nedved, back after missing four games with a groin injury,
skated down the right side, turned and fed a pass to Gagne, who
scored on a wrister before crashing into the right post and
knocking the net off its moorings.

Savage's ninth goal midway through the second put the Flyers
ahead 2-0. Pitkanen sent a perfect centering pass from near the
left boards to a streaking Savage, who redirected the puck past
goalie Sebastien Caron.

Pitkanen ripped a slap shot from the slot just inside the left
post for his 13th goal, giving the Flyers a 3-0 lead.

Flyers enforcer Donald Brashear and Pittsburgh's Eric Cairns
squared off in the third period immediately after both players left
the penalty box, with Brashear landing a few solid shots early in
the fight. Brashear got a rousing ovation as he returned to the
penalty box and exchanged high-fives with some fans.

Philadelphia, plagued by injuries throughout the season,
remained without defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Chris
Therien (head). The Flyers are 10-8-2 without Forsberg, who has 19
goals and 55 assists for 74 points in 58 games. They're 31-16-9
with him in the lineup.

One game after allowing six power-play goals, the Flyers killed
six of seven penalties.

Game notes
The Flyers, who had lost three in a row at home, have won
23 of their last 27 games against the Penguins in Philadelphia. ...
Flyers D Denis Gauthier served the first of his two-game suspension
for his check from behind on Toronto's Kyle Wellwood in Saturday
night's loss to the Maple Leafs. ... Flyers D David Printz made his
NHL debut. ... The Penguins completed a four-game road trip, going
1-3. ... The Flyers won the season series, 6-2. ... Flyers rookie F
Ryan Potulny got his first career point with an assist on
Pitkanen's goal. ... Crosby had 14 points against the Flyers, most
ever by a rookie.