Rangers aim to sweep Flyers in home-and-home finale

(SportsNetwork.com) - There are few clubs who would rather face Henrik Lundqvist than his backup, but the struggling Philadelphia Flyers could be wishing for that scenario when they visit the rival New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

New York's Cam Talbot posted his second shutout in as many starts against the Flyers this season, stopping 26 shots to help the Blueshirts win 3-0 in the opener of a home-and-home series Friday in Philadelphia.

Talbot hadn't played since making 31 saves in a 2-0 triumph over the visiting Flyers on Nov. 19 at Madison Square Garden and on Friday afternoon he stopped every shot sent his way to give the Rangers a third win in their last four tries. All three of those wins have come via shutout, as Lundqvist stopped 21 shots in 5-0 win over Montreal on Sunday.

The last time New York posted a shutout in three games over a four-game span was when they registered three consecutive shutouts from Feb. 4-10, 1973. The Rangers have an NHL-leading six shutouts over 22 games in 2014-15.

In three career games against Philly, Talbot owns a 2-1-0 record and a .67 goals against average, but despite his success against the Flyers, New York will go back to its No. 1 netminder in Saturday's rematch. Lundqvist, the 2011-12 Vezina Trophy winner, is no slouch in this series either, posting a 27-13-3 record and a 2.49 GAA in 45 lifetime games against Philadelphia.

Friday's tilt also was a big game for Martin St. Louis, as the Rangers forward posted a goal and assist to reach 1,000 career points. The two-time Art Ross Trophy winner has registered 379 goals and 621 assists over 1,082 games.

"It's always great when you achieve something, but I don't think it crosses your mind when you try and play in this league," said St. Louis about reaching the milestone. "To get a thousand, it's a great accomplishment. I'm not going to hide my feelings, I'm proud of that."

Dan Boyle and Rick Nash also scored for the defending Eastern Conference champions, while Derek Stepan assisted on all three goals.

Nash's tally was a short-handed goal that came early in the third period and less than a minute after the Flyers were awarded a four-minute power play when Chris Kreider drew blood on a high stick against Philadelphia's Sean Couturier. Stepan led a 3-on-1 rush and sent a pass from the left wing into the right circle for Nash, who one-timed a shot into the net for his 16th goal of the season. The goal pushed New York's cushion to 3-0.

New York welcomed captain Ryan McDonagh back to the lineup Friday after he missed the previous 11 games with a separated shoulder. The defenseman picked up an assist on Nash's goal.

Steve Mason made 21 saves for the skidding Flyers, who have lost three in a row and are 1-6-1 in their last eight. The recent drought has dropped Philadelphia six points behind Toronto for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers were 0-for-6 on the power play and are just 3-for-24 with the man advantage over their last six games.

"We're definitely in a rut here," said Mason. "There is still a lot of time to make up room, but you can't let this keep sliding like this. It's unacceptable, it's embarrassing and we have to get going on a roll here."

Philadelphia backup Ray Emery could get the start today. Emery owns excellent career numbers against the Rangers, going 7-2-0 with a 1.87 GAA and .936 save percentage in this matchup.

The Rangers have won three straight and four of the last five meetings against the Flyers.

Although Philly won one of four road meetings against New York in the opening round of last season's playoffs, the Flyers have lost nine consecutive regular-season tilts at Madison Square Garden. Not counting a Game 2 win at MSG last spring, the Flyers haven't won on the road in this series since Feb. 20, 2011.