After playing the New York Rangers quite close seven months ago in the playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers now seem to have forgotten how they achieved any level of success.
It's also been bad for a sustained period in regular-season matchups at Madison Square Garden, where the Metropolitan Division opponents will complete a home-and-home set Saturday with the Rangers chasing their third win over the struggling Flyers in 11 days.
The Rangers (10-8-4) have won nine straight regular-season home meetings with the Flyers (8-11-3), who lost those games by a combined 33-9 score after a 2-0 loss Nov. 19.
New York, which was taken to seven games by the Flyers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals a season ago, also asserted itself in Philadelphia on Friday with a 3-0 win for its third shutout in four games. The Rangers also blanked Montreal on Sunday.
"We have to finish the job tomorrow," Martin St. Louis told the team's official website after reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career with a goal and an assist.
Both games against Philadelphia this season featured Cam Talbot in goal, and the Flyers will now have to deal with Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers' No. 1 will try to level out after an erratic 2-2-2 stretch that includes a pair of shutouts and nine goals allowed in the regulation losses.
He's been more in line with the shutouts against the Flyers, posting a 1.13 goals-against average over his 8-0-0 home stretch in the series.
Rick Nash and Dan Boyle joined St. Louis with goals, while Derek Stepan had three assists. Nash has scored in four straight games, and he was assisted by defenseman Ryan McDonagh in his first game back from an 11-game absence due to a separated shoulder.
Coach Alain Vigneault expects the captain to add even more assurance to the shutout-happy New York defense once he's up to speed.
"Mac coming back certainly helps our back end," Vigneault told the team's official website. "It's obviously going to take him a couple of games to get the execution and timing down pat, but I thought as the game wore on he got better."
The Flyers now find themselves in a 1-6-1 rut with 14 goals scored and a 64.5 percent success rate on the penalty kill.
The five-game trip they're embarking on may seem especially daunting given the fact they're on the cusp of their first seven-game road skid since March 4-April 3, 2007.
"You become frustrated and lose your composure when you stop playing like a team on the ice," coach Craig Berube said. "That doesn't mean this is not a good team or a team that wants to stick together. Right now they're a little bit lost that way. To get that composure back and get that frustration out of your game you need to go out (Saturday) and play like a team for 60 minutes no matter what."
Steve Mason has been on the wrong end of each game against the Rangers and has dropped three straight against them. He's also 0-2-1 with a 3.58 GAA in four games at the Garden.
Philadelphia could deploy Ray Emery, who relieved Mason in Detroit on Wednesday and last started Nov. 20. He's 0-3-0 with a 4.12 GAA in his last four games but has a 7-2-0 record and 1.87 GAA over 10 starts against the Rangers.
Jakub Voracek, among the league leaders with 30 points in 22 games, has just one in his last six against the Rangers.