Valiquette gave up a bad goal on the first shot he saw in making a rare appearance in place of Henrik Lundqvist, but turned aside all 19 shots he faced over the final two periods of regulation and overtime to give New York a much-needed win.
It was his first NHL victory since March 27, 2004.
Karel Rachunek had a goal and assisted on Sean Avery’s tying tally with 2:53 left in the third. Michael Nylander, Jaromir Jagr, and Marcel Hossa scored against Curtis Sanford in the shootout for the Rangers, who began the day 11th in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers reversed a recent trend of blowing leads by erasing a 2-0 deficit in the final 8:46 of regulation. Rachunek was the first to solve Curtis Sanford when his shot from the middle of the left circle found its way into the top left corner.
Rachunek then set up Avery 3:29 later for a drive from the slot that beat Sanford high to the glove side. New York had squandered 2-0 leads in the third period four times in the previous 12 games.
Sanford was sharp for the third straight game in place of injured starter Manny Legace but faltered late.
Valiquette was shaky early while standing in for Lundqvist who had made 19 straight starts. He gave up Brad Boyes’ goal just 1:35 in and Radek Dvorak’s first tally in 15 games late in the first period.
It was Boyes’ 14th this season and first since being acquired by St. Louis from Boston on Tuesday.
Before the game, the Rangers honoured former player and longtime broadcaster John Davidson, who moved on to become the president of the Blues before this season. The Blues, winners of three of the previous four, hadn’t played the Rangers in New York since Nov. 3, 2002. They are 10-44-6-1 in 61 games at Madison Square Garden.
Valiquette allowed two goals on eight shots in the third period against Philadelphia on Feb. 17, during his only other appearance this season. He fell behind quickly.
Boyes streaked into the Rangers zone on the right side, blowing past defenceman Marek Malik, and then surprised Valiquette with a shot from the bottom of the right circle that found its way into the left side just 1:35 into the game.
Dvorak scored his first goal in 15 games when he quickly converted Jamal Mayers’ pass from behind the net, making it 2-0 with 2:36 remaining in the opening frame.
New York had several chances in the second period, but couldn’t trim the deficit.
The best came when Matt Cullen rushed in to get to a rebound of Jed Ortmeyer’s drive that bounced out off Sanford’s pass. In stride, Cullen slid his left skate along the ice and pushed the puck into the net. After a brief video review, the goal was disallowed.
Notes: Rangers LW Martin Straka took part in the pre-game warmup but sat out for a third straight game (shoulder). … Pat Dapuzzo worked his 1,500th NHL game as a linesman. … C Glen Metropolit assisted on Dvorak’s goal for his first point in three games since being acquired by St. Louis from Atlanta last weekend. … Lundqvist’s streak was the longest for the Rangers since Davidson made 24 straight starts from Feb. 7-March 27, 1976.