There was Sean Avery, getting mouthy with the Flyers, drawing penalties and pointed comments and scoring two goals for good measure.

There was Michal Rozsival, quietly returning to the more than capable form he's showed for most of his Rangers tenure, the Garden boo-birds notwithstanding.

There was Wade Redden, even, getting a regular third-period turn when John Tortorella went down to four defensemen to keep the Flyers at bay Sunday.

Oh, if only it were this simple every time for the Rangers, who played their best defensive game in a long time and got key contributions from the aforementioned players, who are perhaps three of the best examples of the up-and-down nature of this team.

A team, by the way, that's now a point from eighth after the 3-1 win over the very, very unhappy Flyers.

"It sounds easy when you say it like that," Rozsival said of the simple formula he and his teammates executed.

Rozsival doesn't really belong in the underachiever group. He's been his usual low-key, efficient self since Christmas, playing top-pair defense with Marc Staal and now getting some extra power-play minutes for the first time since the beginning of the year.

His deflected slap shot to break a 1-1 tie in the second period was his first power-play goal of the season; he had 19 in his first four Rangers seasons and was a mainstay of the first unit with his pal Jaromir Jagr.

But Redden, so derided by the Garden crowd that he was booed Sunday when he was announced sponsoring a group of kids at the game, has been in everybody's doghouse. So his skipping wrist shot that Avery knocked in to tie the game, plus crisp passes out of his own zone, earned him more minutes and praise.

"Reds has given us some good minutes the last couple games," Tortorella said. "We scored a couple goals because our 'D' was ready to shoot and they moved the puck quickly."

As for Avery, he didn't do any talking after his two-goal game, but the Flyers did plenty after Avery got Scott Hartnell to drop the gloves and take a roughing minor, plus get under other skins with his icing-call hit on Matt Carle in the first.

"Some of the comments he made toward Scott Hartnell were just classless," Danny Briere said. "He just has no class - and you can write that."

Ian Laperriere added: "Those people [in New York] are getting fooled by his act because I know he's the worst teammate I played with and I know they feel the same way."

It's two wins in a row now for the Rangers, who have the Canadiens in town Tuesday night - another team the Rangers are trying to catch in the playoff chase. There are 13 games to go and the Rangers have no time to waste; they played that way Sunday barely taking notice of the Flyers' version of Avery, Daniel Carcillo, who fought Marian Gaborik two months ago.

Why the Rangers, Avery and Redden in particular, waited this long to contribute the way they did is a mystery.

"There's no secret recipe," Redden said. "There have been times we've gotten away from what makes us successful, but we didn't do that today. We have to keep doing it."