It's not how you start, they say; it's how you finish.
Cam Talbot struggled at the beginning of Sunday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Garden but finished strong, shrugging off a bumpy first period to shut down the mighty Ducks offense in the Rangers' surprisingly easy 7-2 victory.
"Bit of a rocky start,'' said Talbot, who allowed two goals by Corey Perry on the Ducks' first 12 shots, then stopped their next 26 shots to finish with 36 saves. "After the second goal, I tried to settle down and focus on stopping the next one. I made a few big saves to get my confidence up.''
In the second night of a back-to-back, Talbot looked uncomfortable from the opening faceoff, but fortunately for him and the Rangers, the Ducks' goalies were even shakier than he was.
Frederik Andersen started for Anaheim and gave up a goal to Chris Kreider just 1:24 into the game. Talbot was beaten by Corey Perry's shot 1:26 later to tie the score at 1-1. Then, after Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin scored to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead and chase Andersen (seven shots, three goals allowed) from the net, Talbot gave up a second goal to Perry to make the score 3-2 at 11:12 of the first period.
At that point, Talbot looked as though he soon might follow Andersen out of the game. After Perry's second goal, Talbot twice made a save and immediately looked behind him, just to make sure the puck hadn't trickled through.
"Sometimes you feel like you're not 'feeling' the puck,'' he said. "Sometimes you can't feel it and you just want to make sure it didn't sneak in behind you, so they can't tap it in. But I thought for the most part I did have most of them, but you always want to check to make sure.''
He made it through the rest of the period unscathed, and when J.T. Miller beat John Gibson at 2:38 of the second period for a 4-2 lead, Talbot appeared to settle down. The Ducks managed only six shots in the middle period, none especially threatening, and after Stepan scored his second goal at 16:01 of the second to make it 5-2, Talbot cruised from there.
He made one eye-opening save in the third period -- a glove save on a point-blank shot by Perry with 7:57 left that denied him a hat trick -- but otherwise had little trouble.
"Tonight, obviously, our goaltender was better than their goaltenders,'' Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Cam made some big saves at the right time.''