This is one bad teams lose, and the Rangers knew that.

In their ongoing battle to beat back mediocrity, the Blueshirts managed to show some poise and some fight after blowing a 2-0 lead, and somehow, some way, snuck out of the United Center with a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks.

“Coming in, we knew we were playing one of the best teams in the league,” said captain Ryan Callahan, referencing not only the 2013 Stanley Cup banner hanging from the rafters, but the fact the Blackhawks hadn’t lost in regulation since Dec. 14, a 10-game stretch of 6-0-4, and had just two regulation losses at home all year. “We showed that if we’re playing the way we should, we can play with them. It’s good confidence, and it’s something that we need.”

What they need more than anything is what they saw from their goaltender for the final 20 minutes, as Henrik Lundqvist stood tall as the talented Blackhawks went this way and that, forcing the play, charging the net — and getting nothing through. Lundqvist made 11 of his 35 saves in the third period, allowing fewer than three goals for just the second time in his past 12 starts.

“In the end, Hank came up big,” coach Alain Vigneault said, smiling. “The way he’s supposed to.”

It was easy to make such a pointed comment in the wake of a win, one that got the Rangers two games over .500 (22-20-3) for the first time all season, now having gone 6-2-1 in their past nine. For a team with a new coach and aspirations of contending, traction seems to be a new and tangible thing, given to them this night when Carl Hagelin charged the net and banged in the game-winner with 5:57 remaining.
“Tonight we went in with the mindset that we’re playing one of the best teams in the league and we have to be really sharp with everything,” Lundqvist said of the Blackhawks, now 29-8-9. “We worked so hard, and this is a big one for us. Playing such a good team, the position we’re in, we’re desperate for points, for wins. It’s a great feeling.”