The saga of Cam Talbot grows.
The Rangers' backup goaltender won the second game of the first back-to-back starts on consecutive days of his brief career Monday night, stopping Nazem Kadri in the third round of a shootout to preserve a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The win ended a season-high nine-game homestand on a high note.
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In the Rangers' third shootout in the last five games, Mats Zuccarello -- now 8-for-15 in shootouts in his career -- beat Jonathan Bernier in the first round and Derek Stepan scored the deciding goal in the second round.
The Rangers (18-18-2) now have a three-day Christmas break. "It's safe to say we are leaving for the holidays on a much happier note," coach Alain Vigneault said.
Talbot, 26, who made 24 saves in Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Wild, made another 25 through overtime. He is 8-2 overall and 3-1-0 at home with a 1.85 goals-against average.
"I was a little nervous, understandably," Talbot said of his first NHL shootout. "Once Zuke got the first goal, it took the pressure off me a little. I got lucky when [James] Van Riemsdyk hit the post, and then Step got the big goal. Joffrey Lupul made a good shot [to score], then I just tried to hold on [against Kadri] and not go to another round."
Kadri's disputed goal cost the Rangers a regulation victory. With 1:24 left and the Rangers up 1-0 on J.T. Miller's goal at 7:04 of the third period after a behind-the-net feed from Chris Kreider, Kadri poked at the puck, which was protected by Talbot's glove at the right post, and the puck crossed the line. No whistle was blown, and after a review, the goal stood. Brian Boyle broke his stick on the post in frustration and Talbot slammed the crossbar.
"I didn't hear a whistle, but I was expecting one," Talbot said. "I thought I had it covered. The ref didn't lose sight of the puck. How many whacks at it do you get?"
Said Vigneault: "In my opinion, that was the wrong call."
Stepan, who scored his second shootout winner, said: "I think as a group, we knew there was nothing we could do about it. They weren't going to change it after they awarded the goal, so we refocused."
Bernier was tremendous at the other end, stopping 42 shots through overtime, but the Rangers, who have won eight of Talbot's nine starts, hung in and ended the homestand 3-4-2.
"Our last six periods have been very, very good," Vigneault said. Especially the second period Monday night, when they outshot the Maple Leafs 22-5.
"The record isn't what we wanted going into it, but we've found our game here in the last two games," said Ryan McDonagh, who logged 29:31 of ice time. "If there's anything we got out of it . . . We've proven to ourselves what it takes, and we have to be willing to do that to succeed."