NEW YORK - Fans can pout over how the Flyers gave up four early goals yesterday, but the team's resiliency at Madison Square Garden was admirable, even in a 5-4 shoot-out loss to the New York Rangers.

Three out of four points for the weekend is not too shabby, given the tense Atlantic Division race.

"We appreciate the point," center Danny Briere said. "I am sure, down the road, it's something that might become very valuable. Right now, it's tough to see it that way. No matter how you look at it, it feels like a loss - a little tough to digest."

Brendan Shanahan and Nigel Dawes scored for New York in the shoot-out, while the Flyers went scoreless.

Jeff Carter scored twice for the Flyers and tied his career high with 23 goals. His second goal forced the overtime.

"His play has continued to improve and evolve," coach John Stevens said. "You go back to the Anaheim game when he played against [Ryan] Getzlaff, arguably one of the better players in the league right now, and he's done a great job.

"I think it's a trying time for everybody, and Jeff's name had been thrown into the [trade rumor] hat. He should be flattered [that] every team that considers a deal with us wants him. . . . He has really picked up the void with [Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Joffrey Lupul] being out, and he continues to impress in all situations."

Neither Antero Niittymaki nor New York's Henrik Lundqvist was impressive in goal. Both were yanked after a six-goal first period, though Niittymaki played briefly in the second.

Niittymaki, who has lost seven in a row, was making his first start since Feb. 23 against Florida. Second-chance shots hurt him.

"I don't think the rebounds were the problem, to be honest," Niittymaki said. ". . . I thought all four goals were good goals. But if you want to win in this league, you have to make a couple of big saves, and I wasn't able to do that."

Niittymaki yielded three goals on the first nine shots and four on 14 overall.

The first period was wild and physical. Vinny Prospal's first point in his latest stint as a Flyer came at 1 minute, 8 seconds. Just over three minutes later, Martin Straka tied it on a power play with a shot off the post, then Niittymaki's pad.

Braydon Coburn scored a go-ahead goal at 8:14 after Kimmo Timonen's shot bounced off Mike Knuble's skate, directly to Coburn for an easy score.

New York's Fredrik Sjostrom, acquired at the trade deadline, made it 2-2, following up his own shot off Niittymaki's shoulder. Ryan Callahan gave the Rangers their first lead at 13:58.

Carter broke the Rangers' momentum during a four-on-four opportunity off a backhanded pass from Scottie Upshall to make it 3-3 at 15:47. Carter acknowledged the moment with a fan in the stands.

"I had a buddy in the corner heckling me, and when I scored that goal, I turned and gave him a look, and he had a good laugh," Carter said. "All in good fun."

Steve Valiquette, who has shut out the Flyers twice this season, started the second period. Niittymaki gave up a goal to Christian Backman two minutes into the period, bringing on Marty Biron.

On Backman's go-ahead goal, Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin pushed Briere hard from behind into the boards, injuring his right shoulder. Briere struggled to the bench as the Rangers came up ice and scored.

"It was an intense game," said Briere, who returned to the game.

"Today, no one wanted to give an inch. Both teams pushed back. It was physical on both sides."

Biron played well, shutting out the Rangers the rest of the way with 21 saves until the shoot-out. The Flyers are 1-5 in shoot-outs this season and 2-11 over two years.

Valiquette also played well, finishing with 17 saves. His shutout streak (157:45) against the Flyers ended at 11:49 of the third period, when Carter scored his second goal.

"With the back-to-back tight, turnaround games and the Rangers pretty rested, I could not be prouder of this team," Stevens said.

"We had some good opportunities to win the game at the end. And you know our luck in the shoot-out."