NEW YORK -- Steve Yzerman fueled a three-goal first period with a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings held off a late charge by the New York Rangers for a 4-2 victory Sunday.
It was the fourth straight victory for the Stanley Cup champions, but the Rangers made them sweat for it with strong play in the last half of the game that turned what appeared to be a blowout into a thriller.
Goaltender Chris Osgood made 29 saves, none more important than a stop on Mathieu Schneider from the slot in the final minute with the Rangers skating with a man advantage after pulling their goalie. Nicklas Lidstrom, with Yzerman assisting again, then scored an empty-netter for the final margin.
Osgood also made two sparkling saves in close on John MacLean that helped the Red Wings stem the Rangers' comeback, once late in the second period and again in the third.
It was another disappointment for the Rangers, with time running out on them for a playoff berth. The Rangers, 1-4-0 in their last five, started the day 12th in the Eastern Conference six points out of the final playoff spot. The loss dropped them six games below .500 for the first time this season.
The Red Wings improved their Central Division lead to 11 points over St. Louis.
Sergei Fedorov and Petr Klima also scored for the Red Wings. Marc Savard and Brent Fedyk scored for New York.
The Red Wings went ahead at 1:12 of the first on a goal by Fedorov, who scored on a break-in with Yzerman. The Red Wings made good use of their speed with a textbook three-way passing play between Brendan Shanahan, Yzerman and Fedorov, who finished it off with a shot from outside the crease with goalie Mike Richter out of position.
Yzerman made it 2-0 at 6:31 with a shorthanded goal, banking a shot off Wayne Gretzky from behind the goal line. Klima scored with a shot from the left circle at 14:36, prompting coach John Muckler to replace Richter with Dan Cloutier.
Savard cut Detroit's lead to 3-1 with a one-timer from the slot at 12:40 of the second. Fedyk made it a one-goal game when he scored from the slot at 4:30 of the third.
The Rangers, already playing without the injured Jeff Beukeboom (concussion), lost another defenseman during the first period when Peter Popovic suffered an eye injury. He was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital for examination.
Flyers 4, Avalanche 4
DENVER -- John LeClair tied the game with his NHL-leading 35th goal in the third period as the Philadelphia Flyers managed a 4-4 tie with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Flyers blew their second 3-1 lead in as many games before LeClair scored at 8:43 of the third period with a blast from the left circle, becoming the 15th Flyers to reach 100 points.
Philadelphia gave up a second period goal to Adam Foote and goals 59 seconds apart in the third period to Valeri Kamensky and Peter Forsberg to fall behind 4-3.
Eric Lindros extended his point streak to 16 with an assist and Eric Desjardins, Daymond Langkow and Keith Jones scored goals as Philadelphia ended a two-game losing streak.
John Vanbiesbrouck, who allowed five goals Wednesday in Anaheim, stopped 27 shots including two spectacular saves in overtime for the Flyers.
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