THE NEW YORK Rangers were running out of time to make anything out of the longest homestand in team history.
The first seven games of the nine-game Madison Square Garden stay produced one win and only four of a possible 14 points for the Rangers, who seemingly lost their way in front of goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Enter backup Cam Talbot, who got the rare start and kept all but one puck out.
Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello scored second-period goals, and Talbot made 24 saves in the Rangers' 4-1 victory over the visiting Minnesota Wild last night.
Talbot allowed the first goal but was steady the rest of the way in relief of the struggling Lundqvist, who started the previous eight games and allowed at least three goals in the last seven outings.
"We owed the fans this one," Talbot said. "They've been supporting us quite a bit lately, and we haven't really produced for them."
Benoit Pouliot tied it in the first period, Chris Kreider added a goal in the third, and Derick Brassard had two assists. Kreider made it 4-1 with 7:14 remaining.
"Probably our best game all year when it comes to playing a full 60 minutes and everyone contributing," Hagelin said. "We definitely needed one of these just to feel good about ourselves."
New York improved to 2-4-2 on the homestand that concludes today against Toronto.
"There is not a whole lot of time to think about it," Talbot said. "Just go out there and try to carry this game into tomorrow."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he decided on his starting goalie for today, but didn't reveal his choice.
"He's a young kid that's learning the NHL game," Vigneault said of the 26-year-old rookie Talbot. "He came in here and did what we expect of our goalies and gave us a chance to win."
Jason Pominville scored for Minnesota, and Niklas Backstrom stopped 32 shots. He made his second straight start in place of Josh Harding, who is out while adjustments are made to medication for multiple sclerosis.