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Cam Talbot blanks Hurricanes, 1-0, for Rangers' sixth straight win

New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot makes a

New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot makes a stick save against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It wasn't exactly how the Rangers would have drawn up their sixth straight win.

Ryan McDonagh's goal at 4:10 of the first period proved to be the game-winner as backup goaltender Cam Talbot posted his third shutout of the season, making 18 saves in a 1-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday night at the Garden.

"We thought we were carrying the play in Carolina on Saturday [a 3-2 overtime win]," McDonagh said. "This one we wanted to jump on them and hopefully have the same kind of defensive game as before. Didn't think it was going to be 1-0, though. We've won in a lot of different ways, and that should give everybody confidence."

In the Rangers' five previous wins, they scored 19 goals and allowed eight. It was their first 1-0 win of the season. The Rangers (17-10-4) hadn't won six in a row since a seven-game stretch in November and December 2011.

"We've got a good feeling in the room," said Dan Girardi, who played his 600th NHL game, all as a Ranger. "We're not flying too high . . . but we're feeling good coming up to games. We feel confident."

Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin played very well, stopping 30 shots, but fell to 0-8-2.

The Rangers clamped down on the Hurricanes (9-20-4), taking away space with backchecking and support in the defensive zone. "They didn't have a lot of quality opportunities, which is always nice when you haven't played a game for a few weeks," said Talbot, who signed a one-year, $1.45-million contract extension Friday. "The guys in front of me did an unbelievable job. They did most of the work for me."

From behind the net, Derek Stepan set up McDonagh for his low glove-side shot. It was Stepan's 15th assist in 19 games since recovering from a broken left fibula suffered in training camp. "I don't really know why he was there, but he was open," Stepan said. "He yelled my name and it's a big-time goal."

Up 1-0, the Rangers made defense the name of the game, containing the Hurricanes and limiting their open looks. Coach Alain Vigneault estimated that Carolina had about five Grade-A chances.

At 1:49 of the second, the Rangers almost added a goal. Matt Hunwick's shot popped up and over Khudobin, who reached back to swat the puck under him. The on-ice ruling was no goal, and a video review in Toronto supported the call that the puck didn't cross the line. MSG, however, had an angle that showed the puck over the line, and Vigneault said afterward that another official -- not referee Darcy Burchell -- told him the goal was disallowed because "the goaltender was pushed into the net."

Kevin Klein's turnover, after he tried to stickhandle through a couple of forwards in his own end, led to Talbot's best stop, as he blockered away an open shot from John-Michael Liles at 8:25.

To be fair, the Rangers also could have salted this one away with a power-play goal. They got the man advantage with 3:48 left but couldn't set up until Martin St. Louis had two chances near the end.

"In the third period, there wasn't much space for either team. It was kind of sloppy hockey," Stepan said. "You've just got to defend."

Garden honors officers. Before the national anthem, there was a moment of silence for the two NYPD officers slain Saturday. The police department's color guard was present and the anthem drew a long standing ovation.

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