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Tim Kerr passed the 50-goal mark for the fourth...

By JOE CIALINI, UPI Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Tim Kerr passed the 50-goal mark for the fourth straight season and the Philadelphia Flyers clinched first place in the Patrick Division for the third year in a row Tuesday night.

Kerr scored twice to pace the Flyers to a 4-1 triumph over the New York Rangers. The Flyers clinched the top spot in the division after the New York Islanders lost on Monday night.

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Rangers Coach Phil Esposito, for one, was impressed with Kerr's accomplishment.

'He reminds me of myself playing the slot,' said Esposito, whose 717 career goals ranks second in NHL history. 'Nobody's going to stop Timmy when he gets into the slot. He plays that position like I used to. As big as he is, there's nobody going to move him out of there.'

The 6-3 Kerr used his 225 pounds to set up in front of New York goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, scoring his first goal of the game, and 50th of the season, on the power play to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead at 9:40 of the first period.

The Flyers had the one-man advantage for only six seconds before Kerr took a pass from Peter Zezel and beat Vanbiesbrouck to his stick side for his 24th power-play goal of the year.

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Kerr was in the slot again at 19:11 of the period when he redirected Derrick Smith's shot through Vanbiesbrouck's pads for a 2-0 Flyers' lead.

'That's a great compliment,' Kerr said when informed of Esposito's remarks. 'He's one of the greatest players to ever play the game. To have him saying that is a great honor. The same thing was said about Phil getting garbage goals. But you have to be in the right spot at the right time. If it was that easy, a lot of guys would be hanging around there. Phil Espositio knows how hard it is. He's taken a few cross-checks in his time.'

Kerr, who has 271 career goals, became the seventh player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals for at least four straight seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky (1979-87), Mike Bossy (1977-86), Guy Lafleur (1974-80), Marcel Dionne (1978-83), Michel Goulet (1982-86) and Esposito (1970-74).

'I'm sure I'll appreciate goals like that and records like that when I'm done playing,' said Kerr, who scored 54, 54 and 58 goals in three previous seasons.

Brian Propp added a power-play score for the Flyers, his 27th goal of the season, and Lindsay Carson added a short-handed goal, his eighth of the year, into an empty net at 19:48 of the third period.

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Carson's short-handed goal was the Flyers' 22nd of the season, extending the team record.New York got its only goal from Walt Poddubny, his 37th of the season.

Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan said the team looked at its three games against the Rangers in the last week as a kind of mini-series.

'They played well in the first game and we came back and won the next two,' said Keenan, whose team was eliminated by the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs last year.

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