Twenty-one of the last 28 regular-season games between the Rangers and Bruins had been decided by a goal, and even with Cam Talbot making an unexpected start in place of Henrik Lundqvist, who is sidelined with a neck injury, why would Wednesday night be any different?

Talbot, who made his last start in Boston on Jan. 15 in a shutout loss, had never faced the Bruins at the Garden.

But in his 10th start of the season, Talbot made 18 saves to help the Rangers win, 3-2. Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan scored in the second period as the Rangers erased a 2-1 deficit.

The Rangers (64 points) moved within a point of the Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders fell out of first place after the Penguins (66 points) won in Edmonton Wednesday night.

The Bruins had entered 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

With 6:36 left in the third, Talbot had stopped all five shots -- the Rangers had none on Tuukka Rask -- and the Rangers had a power play with Dougie Hamilton sent to the box for interference. That fizzled and in a chaotic finish, Talbot kicked away a Torey Krug shot with 26 seconds left.

"I think our whole team is very comfortable when Cam is in there," coach Alain Vigneault said before the game. "After starting his season with an average start, he had those three straight shutouts and has given us a chance to win every game he's been in goal since."

In the third, with the Rangers leading 3-2, Carl Hagelin went off for a trip at 2:19, but the penalty-kill reigned for a second time on the evening.

With the Rangers trailing 2-1 after the first period, Brassard sniped his 13th of the season past Rask from between the circles at 6:41 to tie the score. Mats Zuccarello, who had a goal and assist on Monday, batted the puck from behind the net to Chris Kreider, who found Brassard open. With 8:13 left, the Rangers had limited the Bruins to eight shots and had 16 on Rask.

When Lee Stempniak hooked Krug at 13:19, the Bruins buzzed for the first 1:20 of the power play but didn't cash in, and Stepan put the Blueshirts ahead shortly after.

Rick Nash found Stepan on the left side behind Hamilton and Stepan's soft shot from a sharp angle went between Rask's pad and glove for a 3-2 lead at 16:56.

When Reilly Smith tripped Zuccarello to break up a pass from Kreider with 1:10 to play in the period, the Rangers couldn't add to the lead and had 50 seconds left with the man advantage to start the third.

In the first period, the Rangers delivered their first consistent start in weeks, looking hungry, controlling the puck, using their speed and opening the scoring at 5:50 when Martin St. Louis forced a turnover and Nash, who scored twice Monday, drove to the net from the left side and slid a backhander past Rask for his league-leading 32nd goal. Nash's career high of 41 came in 2003-04 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Bruins didn't have a shot until 7:45 when Talbot kicked away Adam McQuaid's wrister with his right pad. But the advantage vanished in 1:52.

After the Blueshirts couldn't clear their zone, Milan Lucic picked the high stick-side corner from the slot and didn't miss at 13:37. Then Patrice Bergeron sped through Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, who were on ice for the first score, to redirect a nifty lead pass from Loui Eriksson at 15:29.