The Blackhawks stumbled out of the gate to start the home stretch of their regular season, losing 2-1 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Chicago’s only score came from Peter Regin with less than 12 seconds left in regulation, but they managed a good scoring chance inside the final 10 seconds that almost tied the game if not for another big save from Cam Talbot to preserve the victory.
Talbot was the story of the game for the Rangers, making 31 saves while silver medal-winner Henrik Lundqvist was afforded a night off as he comes back from Sochi.
Rookie TJ Miller scored in the first to get New York on the board, and Rick Nash completed a strong play to score the eventual game-winner in the third.
Corey Crawford stopped 22 of 24 in the loss.
Coach Joel Quenneville threw the lines in his blender starting in the middle of the second period. Regin started the game on the second line with Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg, but Kane spent a lot of time with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw in the third. Kane played 22:13 in his return from the Olympics.
The Hawks had a good night at the dot with the exception of Shaw, who won only two of nine faceoffs. Jonathan Toews won 13 of 21 while Regin won seven of 10 to lead the Hawks.
Quenneville had no problem giving his Olympians heavy minutes in the first game back. Toews was on the ice for 20:27, Patrick Sharp skated 19:50 and Marian Hossa 17:39 on the Hawks’ top line. Marcus Kruger, who won three of six faceoffs, took a puck to the face early in the game but still played 10:48 on the night.
Fans hoping to see more from Bryan Bickell after the break didn’t get much on Thursday night. In 10:30 he managed one shot on net and two hits.
The Hawks’ first game in Chicago in over a month will be at Soldier Field on Saturday night.