While growing up, Cam Talbot was a fan of Montreal Canadiens goaltending great Patrick Roy.
And in his first game at the Bell Centre, the 26-year-old played a lot like Roy as he made 22 saves to earn in his NHL shutout in the New York Rangers 1-0 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.
“I always idolized Patrick Roy so to do it in a building like this and on a stage like this, and to see his number up in the rafters, was an unbelievable feeling,” the Caledonia, Ont., native said.
Captain Ryan Callahan ended the Rangers’ four-year goal drought in Montreal when he got his sixth of the season on a second period power play for New York (10-9-0), which has won eight of its last 11 games.
It wasn’t the only mark of futility that ended for the Rangers on their visit to their old Original Six rival.
Talbot, playing his fifth NHL game, became the first Rangers goalie to earn a shutout in Montreal since Ed Giacomin in a 5-0 win on Feb. 25, 1967 at the old Forum.
“It means quite a bit to me,” said Talbot, now 4-1-0 as an NHL goalie. “He and Mike Richter are two of the greatest Ranger goalies of all time, so to hear my name mentioned alongside his is pretty surreal, to be honest.”
The Canadiens (10-9-2) were coming off a 3-2 shootout win in Columbus on Friday night and spent most of the game a step behind the Rangers, who played the first of back-to-back games before playing Los Angeles at home on Sunday.
The Rangers had a 34-22 edge in shots, and may have won by more had Carey Price not been outstanding in the Montreal net.
“It’s a game of inches,” said Montreal coach Michel Therrien, whose team has scored only 18 times in its last 11 games “They capitalized on the power play and we had chances on ours and didn’t capitalize.
“We worked, and if we keep working like that good things are going to happen.”
Callahan broke the Rangers’ Bell Centre jinx just as a two-man advantage ended as he tipped Brad Richard’s blast from the left circle past Price 5:25 into the second period.
The Canadiens went into the game with four straight shutouts against New York, including a 2-0 win Oct. 28 with Peter Budaj in goal. Price had blanked the Rangers the last four times he faced them at the Bell Centre and lost at home to them for the first time in eight meetings.
Montreal was 7-0-1 at home against New York and had outscored them 25-3 since a 4-3 loss in March, 2009.
“We were well aware of it,” said Calahan. “We came in and had a good road game.
“We got a good start and carried it through, and Talbot was unbelievable.”
Richards laughed when asked about the Rangers record of futility in Montreal.
“I have nothing but great memories here since I was 17 and playing in the Quebec junior league all-star games,” the former Rimouski Oceanic star said. “I always loved coming back here to play, so I didn’t really get it and I don’t think our new coach (Alain Vigneault) got it either, being from Quebec and knowing the history and how fun it is to play here.
“He made a joke before the game that there’s no ghosts here. It’s a great place to play and let’s have some fun. I think you guys and people in New York talk about it a lot, but as places to come and play, this is by far the best building.”
The only drawback was that Talbot didn’t get the puck at the end of the game, as a Canadiens’ player flipped it into the crowd. Talbot said a teammate picked one up for him at the scorer’s bench.
The Rangers dressed Talbot largely because Henrik Lundqvist, who will play against Los Angeles, often struggles in Montreal.
The good news for Montreal was that physical defenceman Alexei Emelin, who blew out a knee in April, made his season debut and played a solid 16 minutes paired with veteran Francis Bouillon.
His knee survived an early hit on Chris Kreider that was very much like the play he was injured on.
“It was exactly the same type of hit,” said Therrien. “For his confidence, that was probably the best thing that could happen. I really liked his first game.”
Notes: Emelin bumped Douglas Murray from the lineup. Brendan Gallagher, who sat out Friday with a flu, was back but was used sparingly. Ryan White and George Parros were scratched. . . The Rangers expect to have star forward Rick Nash back from a concussion either Tuesday against Boston or Thursday at Dallas. Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Mashinter didn’t dress.