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Avery returns to lead Rangers over Flyers

Sean Avery of the New York Rangers

Sean Avery of the New York Rangers celebrates scoring his second goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. (March 14, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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

"Aves is a pretty confident person, you could see that throughout his career," Christensen said. And when he saw No. 16 on the lineup board in the locker room at Madison Square Garden before yesterday'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 by avoiding fights against Scott Hartnell and Dan Carcillo. He 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 season, 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 Rangers (31-29-9) won their second straight and are 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 only 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 blue line that banged off the post and in for his third goal of the season 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 his 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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