Erik Christensen had a feeling that Sean Avery would rebound from his one-game benching in Atlanta.

 

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                     “Aves is a pretty confident person, you could see that throughout his career,” said Christensen. And when he saw No. 16 on the lineup board in the locker room at Madison Square Garden before today’s game, “I thought to myself, ‘We’re gonna see something pretty good from him tonight, at least a lot of energy, that you’d notice him in some way.’ ’’
                    Avery, criticized by coach John Tortorella for not being “engaged” in all aspects of the game, kept his cool avoiding fights against Scott Hartnell, Dan Carcillo and the feisty Flyers, scored twice and played well enough in the Rangers’ 3-1 win to have Tortorella send him out late in the third period in search of his first career hat trick.
                            “I wish he scored the third goal,” said Tortorella, who downplayed his discussions with Avery. “I don’t know if that (the talks) worked. I think you guys get a little crazy about all that stuff, as far as the motivation. He deserves credit in things he does. If he concentrates and engages in all aspects, he’s a pretty good player. The thing I liked about his game, he let his play do the talking tonight. Sean needs to realize he’s a really good player and let his play do the talking.”
                               Avery, who scored twice against Toronto and Columbus earlier this year, didn’t do any talking after the game either.
                               Henrik Lundqvist did. “I think that’s the way you answer,” said Lundqvist, who made 17 saves as the Blueshirts (31-29-9) won their second straight and climbed to within a point of the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East with 13 games to play. “Great answer coming back from the scratch. A lot of energy, speed, shooting the puck well. I’m happy for him.”
                               In truth, the entire club played with zest and savvy. “It was probably one of our better team games as far as discipline goes,” Tortorella said. “We did a really good job in the neutral zone and got better as the game went on. We stood in there in the physical part of the game.”
                             Daniel Briere opened the scoring for the Flyers on a power play at 4:13, generally a bad sign for the Rangers, who managed just four shots on Michael Leighton in the first period. But Avery shoveled in a rebound of a bouncing Wade Redden point shot at 1:53 of the second, and another much-maligned defenseman, Michal Rozsival, beat Leighton on a long low shot from the blueline that banged off the post and in for his third goal of the year on a power play at 4:54.
                              “It’s something I haven’t done very much this year,” said Rozsival, “but I was open and got a great pass (from Christensen, who had two assists). The main thing was a great screen in front (by Chris Drury).”     
                               Avery added 10th of the season at 14:05 of the third when Leighton didn’t get all of his shot from near the sideboards.   
                              Then the Rangers locked the Flyers down for the duration, with the defensemen holding the red line. “We knew we had enough goals to win the game,” said Dan Girardi, “but at the same time we were not sitting back too much; we stayed in their faces.”  
 
               
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                 Brandon Dubinsky initially wondered why Mike Richards goaded him into a fight with 3:46 left in the game. But with the score 3-1, he figured, would be a better-than-even trade to take the Flyers captain off the ice for the rest of the afternoon.
              “I guess the message is that we are going to respond and be there step by step with them,” said Dubinsky, who swapped words and bumps all day with the Flyers, who close the season with two games against the Rangers. “If they want to mix it up, we are going to mix it up. We have guys in here who are willing to do that and guys that are good at it. We are not going to back down. We are going to continue to fight, scratch and claw every game to find a way to get into the playoffs.”
 
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                          Artem Anisimov wasn’t alone in thinking he had given the Rangers a 3-1 lead with his 11th goal of the season at 6:07 of the second period. Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton covered the puck with his glove hand---across the goal line, but the on-ice call was “no goal.”
                         “That’s a goal,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “They need to see the puck to overturn the call. But we looked at the replay. Jerry (Dineen, the team’s video director) came in during that whistle. We asked them to look upstairs. Toronto (where goals are reviewsed) called down and said they can’t change the call on the ice.”
 
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                          Flyers bruiser Riley Cote, who dressed for the first time since Dec. 21, played 4:07 overall, and failed to have an impact. “I wished he played more,” said Tortorella. “He’s a non-factor. I wish (Danny) Briere was out there. I wish (Jeff) Carter was out. Those are the guys you have to look out for.”…Henrik Lundqvist is 6-2-2 with a 2.39 goals against average and a .940 save percentage in his last 10 games…The Rangers are 6-0-1 in afternoon games and 15-15-6 at home…Chris Drury’s assists on the last two goals gave him four in the last two games…Erik Christensen won 10 of 11 faceoffs.
 
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                     So two in a row for the first time since, 2007...Kidding, of course. But Montreal and Scott Gomez and a hot goaltender in Jaroslav Halak won't be a walkover on Tuesday. 
                    
                    Check in tomorrow and hey, advance warning: live chat 1 p.m. Thursday on the day before the Blues come to town.