GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Backup goaltender Cam Talbot will get his first start in six games Saturday afternoon in Ottawa as the Rangers look to continue their recent success.
The Rangers are 4-1-1 in their last six games, with Henrik Lundqvist returning to All-Star form. Lundqvist has allowed seven goals in his last five games, including a 38-save shutout of the Red Wings on Thursday.
But with the Rangers returning to Madison Square Garden Sunday night to play the Capitals and then playing eight more games before the Olympic break begins Feb. 9, coach Alain Vigneault knows he will need to rely on Talbot.
"With the schedule being what it is and the demands of it and we're playing back-to-back tomorrow, I'm going with Cam," Vigneault said. "But you need two goaltenders, in my estimation, especially in a year like this year, to come in and chip in and win you some games."
Talbot has a 9-3-0 record with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.
"These are another two big points for us against a conference opponent, and every two points in the conference is huge right now," Talbot said. "We need to keep rolling here and keep gaining ground on the top teams and try to put some separation between us and the teams that are chasing us."
After a rough start at home, the Rangers have won three of their last four to improve to 11-11-3 at the Garden. The Rangers are tied for second with the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.
"We are finding our game here at home," said Mats Zuccarello, who scored the lone goal in Thursday's win over the Red Wings. "It was a tough stretch when we lost a lot of home games, but it's nice to be back here where we are supposed to be -- winning in Madison Square Garden."
The Rangers will play six of their next eight at the Garden, with the two "road" games at Yankee Stadium against the Devils and Islanders.
"It's really important for us to get back in the race that we start winning at home," Lundqvist said. "It helps our confidence -- even though we've been playing well on the road -- if we want to have a chance here to make the playoffs, we have to take care of business at home."