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Henrik Lundqvist not surprised Cam Talbot gets back-to-back starts

Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers sits on the

Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers sits on the bench in the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 12, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Henrik Lundqvist, who has struggled on this homestand, was not surprised that backup Cam Talbot started against Toronto.

The team's No. 1 goalie said he "kind of expected" coach Alain Vigneault's decision to start Talbot in back-to-back games.

"The way he's playing, and we got a big win [Sunday], I kind of expected it," said Lundqvist (10-15-2, 2.77 goals-against average; 1-4-2 during the homestand). "It's about winning, this team getting points, and he's doing really well. I have to push myself to be a little bit better to help the team get points."

Talbot has "been playing really well all year," Lundqvist said. "He's confident, he's very calm out there. [Minnesota] got a good start [Sunday], but we turned around and played really well, didn't give up much. But he made the saves we needed."

In Lundqvist's last start, a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Friday, he allowed four goals. "It was a tough one to play, a couple breakdowns, a couple breakaways . . . So I'm trying to move on," he said. "That's the only thing you can do right now, work hard. That's my mind-set right now, especially in practice. You try not to think too much, you just go as hard as you can and you get confidence that way."

Lundqvist, who faced shots from Marc Staal and Taylor Pyatt for 45 minutes Monday, will work on his game before the Rangers visit the Capitals on Friday. He might skate during the upcoming three-day break.

Lundqvist, whose neck remains stiff after he was bowled over by Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz on Wednesday, is resting and taking treatment, but "when you're out there, you don't think about it. It's still stiff, but it doesn't bother me."


Staal could return soon

Staal "had a real hard go" in the session, Vigneault said. He was told the defenseman, who suffered a concussion Dec. 7, "responded real well" to his third straight day on ice. "He permits us to have two real good defenders against the other team's top line," he said. "Hopefully, we'll have him in the lineup soon."

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