NEW YORK (AP) — Cam Talbot came within 12 seconds of shutting out the defending Stanley Cup champions. Before he could blink, he was nearly headed for overtime.
The Rangers' backup goalie gathered himself quickly after the Chicago Blackhawks cut their deficit in half and turned aside one final chance to seal New York's 2-1, post-Olympic victory on Thursday night.
Derick Brassard scored in the first period, and Rick Nash added an insurance goal in the third that became crucial when Chicago's Peter Regin ended the shutout bid with 11.6 seconds remaining.
"It felt like the longest 11 seconds in the world," Talbot said. "I didn't think they were going to get down the ice that quick."
"It is just kind of a hope play there with 11 seconds left," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We got a good prime scoring chance."
Talbot denied Patrick Kane in tight to seal the win in relief of resting No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Talbot got the starting nod after Lundqvist received extended work in Sweden's run to the Olympics gold medal game. Talbot made the most of his opportunity, earning his 11th career win in 18 NHL games — all this season.
The starting lineups featured seven Olympians and four members of Canada's gold-medal winning team. The Rangers and Blackhawks had been off since Feb. 7.
"To come out and beat the defending champs coming off a break like that is a good measuring stick for us," Talbot said. "We know when we play our best hockey we can beat anyone."
The Blackhawks came in with an NHL-best 202 goals and 3.37 goals-per-game average this season. They were nearly blanked for a second straight game after not being shut out in their first 59 games.
Chicago lost 2-0 at Phoenix in its last game before the Olympic break.
"We didn't give up hardly anything in the two games and we don't have much to show for it offensively, which is kind of disappointing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
New York has won six of seven. Lundqvist is expected to play Saturday in Philadelphia when the Rangers start a back-to-back set. Talbot improved to 11-5 this season, giving the Rangers comfort in knowing they have a reliable backup.
"The difference was our goaltending," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Cam came up extremely big at key moments, especially at the end."