PHILADELPHIA - As the Rangers search for an extra defenseman before Monday's trade deadline, a former New York blueliner, Michael Del Zotto, helped to snap the Rangers' four-game win streak with a shorthanded, go-ahead goal in a 4-2 Flyers victory Sunday night.
Wayne Simmonds scored an empty-netter with 0.3 seconds left as the Flyers handed the Rangers their first regulation loss in 11 games.
The Rangers remained two points behind the Islanders for the Metro Division lead, with three games in hand, after the Isles lost to the Hurricanes, 5-3.
With the score tied at 2 early in the third period, Del Zotto, a former first-round draft pick who had been sent to Nashville in exchange for Kevin Klein in January 2014, beat Cam Talbot cleanly with a high glove side wrister at 1:19 after taking a pass from Sean Couterier.
"I came over too much, kind of over-pushed," Talbot, who made 30 saves, said about Del Zotto's goal. "He corraled it and he had enough time to look up and go the other way on me."
With 10:08 left, after a good shift from Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller, Flyers defenseman Mark Streit high-sticked Miller, but the Blueshirts couldn't connect on the power play. They went 0-for-3 overall with the man advantage.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said: "I don't say this very often about any parts of our game, but our power play got outworked tonight . . . execution, foot speed and puck speed."
Derek Stepan took some of the blame, as well. "We can't get scored on there. My fault," he said. "I over-backchecked. It's [the power play] certainly not good enough."
Flyers goaltender Steve Mason, who made 34 saves, stood on his head in the third period, stopping all 16 shots he faced, including at least five during one rapid-fire sequence with seven minutes left which brought the crowd to its feet. Mason stopped Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and John Moore on quality shots before Mason finally was able to control the puck. His best stop was when he robbed Nash on the doorstep after Brassard passed it across to Mason's left.
Defenseman John Moore scored his first of the season on a slap shot at 11:55 of the second period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead, but Michael Raffl's tip-in tied the score at 2 at 14:37.
Just seven seconds into the game at Wells Fargo Center, Stepan's long bouncing shot from the red line got past Mason and into the net. But the goal was waved off because Chris Kreider was offside.
Matt Read opened the scoring at 9:41. Dan Boyle turned it over at the blue line, then lost his stick defending a rush. He hustled back, but Read squeezed a loose puck between Talbot and the left post. Talbot had shut out the Flyers in his previous two starts.
Twenty-five seconds later, Miller, from between the circles, took a pass from Hagelin and fired. Mason stopped it, but Miller sniped the rebound through for the 1-1 tie. It was Miller's sixth of the season and first in 22 games.
It was the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Rangers won the first three in a 10-day stretch in late November.