LOS ANGELES -- Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot, who had never faced the Kings in his brief NHL career until Thursday night, had been pretty effective against Western Conference opponents.
Talbot, sidelined with a hand injury during the Stanley Cup Final, was 5-3-1, with a 1.66 GAA, a .942 save percentage and two shutouts in nine appearances against Western opponents. On the road, he was 2-1-0, with a 0.67 GAA and .971 save percentage.
This season, Talbot has three shutouts and is 3-3-1 with a 2.02 GAA and .928 save percentage.
Before the matchup with the team that knocked them out in five games in the Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers had a slightly better record than the Kings. The Rangers are 22-11-4 (48 points); the Kings were 19-12-9 (47).
It was just after the Rangers' last regular-season trip to Southern California -- on Oct. 15, 2014 -- that Talbot, 26, was summoned from Hartford to be Henrik Lundqvist's backup.
Struggling veteran Martin Biron was waived -- he would clear and then retire -- and Talbot, who played 55 games in the AHL, was on Broadway to stay.
When the Rangers conclude this three-game trip in San Jose Saturday, it will be the first visit to SAP Center since the 9-2 rout last October when the Rangers were foundering early in coach Alain Vigneault's tenure.
That pounding, in which Lundqvist allowed four goals in 4:16 and Biron allowed five on 21 shots, including Tomas Hertl's fourth of the game on a between-the-legs roofer that is still shown on highlight reels, was followed by a 6-0 blanking in Anaheim and a 5-3 defeat in St. Louis on Oct. 12. Talbot was recalled three days later and went 12-6-1.
The Rangers also lost to the Sharks, 1-0, last March 16 at home, when Antti Niemi posted a 41-save shutout, leaving the Rangers clinging to a wild-card spot.
Notes & quotes: Entering Thursday's game, the Rangers had defeated both the Ducks and Kings on the road in back-to back games just once: Dec. 16-17, 2008 . . . It was unclear on Thursday afternoon whether there would be any other lineup changes for the Rangers, who had no morning skate. Tanner Glass and Matt Hunwick, who were healthy scratches in the 4-1 defeat of the Ducks Wednesday night, could provide fresh legs in the second game of the back-to-back.