Rangers aim to extend surge vs. Flames

( - The New York Rangers have managed to do more than simply get by without No. 1 goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in the lineup, and the surging club hopes to stay hot when it hosts the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Lundqvist has missed the last 10 games with a vascular injury and his team has cruised along without his help, going 7-1-2 during that stretch. All told, the Rangers have won nine of 12 and they enter Tuesday just two points behind the rival New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blueshirts are only one point ahead of Pittsburgh in the division and two in front of fourth-place Washington.

Cam Talbot has taken on the majority of the workload in Lundqvist's absence and boasts a 6-1-2 mark while serving as the de facto No. 1. Mackenzie Skapski, a 20-year-old rookie, won the other game for New York during the stretch, stopping 24-of-25 shots against Buffalo in his NHL debut on Friday.

After Skapski picked up the win over the Sabres, Talbot followed with a 27- save victory in Sunday's shootout win over visiting Columbus. It wasn't exactly a banner performance for Talbot, as the Rangers blew a three-goal lead before ultimately winning 4-3 in the tiebreaker. Talbot did end the game with a poke check on Cam Atkinson's shootout attempt.

Martin St. Louis scored two goals in regulation and added another in the shootout to extend New York's point streak to eight games. Kevin Hayes also tallied a goal for the Rangers and Rick Nash scored the game-winner in the shootout.

"We've got to be a lot better at home with a 3-0 lead," said Nash. "It seemed like we took our foot off the gas pedal."

Talbot is likely to start again tonight when the Rangers play the middle part of a three-game homestand. Lundqvist, meanwhile, has resumed skating but there is still no timetable for his return to game action.

Rangers forward Jasper Fast could be back in the lineup Tuesday after sitting out the last eight games with a sprained knee. The rookie has three goals and six assists in 37 contests this season.

New York is 18-7-5 as the host and will complete its current stay at Madison Square Garden when it welcomes Arizona on Thursday.

The Flames hope to bounce back tonight from consecutive losses at the end of a four-game homestand. Calgary beat Vancouver and Boston to begin the stay at the Saddledome, but then lost an overtime decision against Minnesota before falling 6-3 to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Calgary led 2-0 on Friday, but the Ducks cut that lead in half near the end of the second stanza before taking control of the contest with a five-goal third period.

Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan all scored in the loss and Jonas Hiller allowed five goals on 37 shots in Calgary's third setback in five games.

"Tonight the Ducks deserve credit," Flames head coach Bob Hartley said. "The more the game was progressing the stronger they were getting."

Karri Ramo will get the call in net tonight for Calgary, while Hiller is expected to start tomorrow evening in New Jersey.

The Flames are 15-11-1 on the road this season and are beginning an important seven-game trip tonight. Although each test on the swing will come against Eastern Conference opponents, the swing could play a big role in whether or not Calgary makes the playoffs. The Flames are currently tied with San Jose at 68 points, one behind Minnesota for the final wild card spot in the West.

On Monday, Calgary placed Paul Byron on injured reserve due to an undisclosed injury, but the forward did travel with the team on its road trip. The Flames also placed forward Matt Stajan on leave as he attends to the upcoming birth of his child.

To fill the roster spots, the Flames recalled forwards Michael Ferland and Emile Poirier from the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League.

The Rangers have won four of the last five meetings with Calgary overall and have claimed the past two encounters at MSG.