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Talbot, Rangers blank Predators @NHLdotcom

Cam Talbot put on a good show for his dad.

The New York Rangers' fathers are traveling with the team this weekend, and Talbot made his dad proud by stopping 17 shots for his second straight shutout in a 2-0 victory against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.

Talbot hadn't played since last Saturday, when he beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 at Bell Centre. He improved to 5-1-0 and has allowed eight goals on 158 shots in six starts while backing up Henrik Lundqvist. Talbot, who played his college hockey at Alabama-Huntsville, about 100 miles from Nashville, hasn't allowed a goal in 136:28, dating to the second period of a 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 7.

"I could get used to this, for sure," Talbot said. "The guys have played unbelievably in front of me the past two games."

Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan provided the offense for the Rangers (12-11-0), who moved back over the .500 mark and won their sixth in a row on the road, including the first two games of a five-game trip. New York is 10-5-0 after a 2-6-0 start and is 6-1-0-1 all-time in Nashville. The Rangers haven't lost at Bridgestone Arena since Feb. 28, 2004.

"Our guys were focused and ready right from the start, and they executed really well," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after his team outshot the Predators 34-17. "We managed the puck well and we didn't give Nashville a lot of scoring opportunities.

"Cam didn't have as much work as he did in Montreal, but when he was asked to make some saves, he did make some saves."

Nashville (11-10-2) had won three in a row and scored 13 goals during that span, but rarely threatened Talbot. Marek Mazanec kept the Predators in the game with 32 saves.

"They played a good defensive game," Nashville forward Eric Nystrom said. "We had a hard time getting on the inside. They have some good-skating defensemen, and their forwards picked a lot of pucks off on the backcheck. We didn't move our feet enough, and they were catching us from behind."

Predators coach Barry Trotz agreed that a lot of his team's problems on the attack were due to the Rangers' hard work.

"Give a lot of credit to the Rangers," he said. "They played a really detailed game. They played fast. We couldn't get the forecheck going. The three defensemen they had back there did a really good job, and their forwards did a good job getting back pressure."

Neither team managed a goal during a first period that saw plenty of skating, but only 12 shots on goal, seven by the Rangers.

New York came the closest to scoring during its first power play. With Seth Jones off for high-sticking Dominic Moore at 5:31, Mats Zuccarello's backhander trickled through Mazanec's pads, but Roman Josi cleared the puck out of the crease before it could cross the goal line. Mazanec also made a fine stop midway through the period on Benoit Pouliot's backhander from the right circle after Pouliot split the defense.

Talbot made his best save early in the second period, when he got his left pad down to stop a hard pass by Nystrom that deflected off the skate of teammate Paul Gaustad just in front of the crease.

New York began to dominate play and opened the scoring at 13:13 on a perfect deflection by McDonagh. Zuccarello's pass from the right boards found defenseman Dan Girardi for a straightaway slap shot from just inside the blue line. McDonagh, his defense partner, went to the slot and deflected the shot between Mazanec's legs for his fifth of the season.

The Rangers ended the period outshooting the Predators 17-7, giving them a 24-12 margin through two periods.

"They didn't allow us to get any momentum," Trotz said. "I didn't think we played great, but I didn't think we played poorly. They had a high compete level and a lot of team speed, and they tracked us down pretty good. I give a little credit to the Rangers, but I also think we can be better."

Stepan gave the Rangers some breathing room 7:45 into the third period by starting and finishing the play that led to his fifth goal of the season. He stripped Viktor Stalberg of the puck in center ice, fed Zuccarello to trigger a 2-on-1 break, then fired the return feed past a helpless Mazanec.

"It's amazing how [Mats Zuccarello] is able to make those plays, and he does that on a regular basis," Stepan said. "I was just the beneficiary of a good pass tonight."

Nashville lost forward Patric Hornqvist in the first period with an upper-body injury. He played just four shifts before leaving.

Material from team media was used in this report.

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