Cam Talbot was one of the NHL’s best backup netminders last year.
His replacement is off to a good start.
Giving Henrik Lundqvist his first night off of the season, Antti Raanta did the business on Monday night, stopping all 22 shots faced for his first win — and shutout — as a Ranger, as New York beat San Jose 4-0 at MSG.
Acquired at the draft from Chicago, Raanta had some unusually large shoes to fill; whereas most backup netminders come and go, Talbot was a fan favorite in New York last season, going 17-4-2 while Lundqvist was sidelined with a vascular injury.
That performance saw Talbot eventually traded to Edmonton, where he’s now the No. 1.
Raanta has a way to go to match Talbot’s exploits, but tonight was step in the right direction.
Tonight was also a step in the right direction for the Rangers, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Three players scored their first goals of the season — Marc Staal, Jesper Fast and Viktor Stalberg, his first as a Ranger — and the defense was solid, holding the Sharks to less than 10 shots in each period.
As for the Sharks, a road trip that began with so much promise ended with a thud. They were outscored 10-3 in back-to-back losses to the Isles and Blueshirts, and will head back to San Jose minus the services of injured forwards Logan Couture and Ben Smith, and veteran d-man Paul Martin.
That said, the outlook is still bright. San Jose is still 4-2-0, and will play seven of its next nine at home.