Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lundqvist Lights Fire with Play and Words

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lundqvist Lights Fire with Play and Words

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Flat on his back and flat-out frustrated was the way Henrik Lundqvist finished Wednesday night's second period, a game- tying goal weighing on his mind, a bunch of Capitals bodies pushing him to the ice. For the better part of two periods, his Rangers had outplayed Washington with just the sort of aggressive, physical style Capitals star Alex Ovechkin insisted they didn't have, but as the goaltender got up from in front of his goal and skated to the locker room, he had to shake the ominous feeling that the night was headed in the wrong direction.

"It was tough to come in here for that second period - it felt like we deserved better," Lundqvist admitted.

They probably did, but rather than lament the sting of lost opportunity, the Rangers took the power play Lundqvist drew for them, took a lead less than a minute into the third period, and took their offense to new heights for the second straight game. A second straight four-goal outburst and a second straight 4-3 win turned the once-imperiled Rangers into contenders again, this opening round playoff series now tied at two games apiece.

"It's a new series now," Ryan Callahan said.

A new series with one of the same old heroes, as Lundqvist made some of his best saves across the final three minutes of the game, surviving a feisty, chippy game that had bodies banging, sticks flying and helmets crashing. Lundqvist wasn't perfect, but finally for him, he didn't have to be. The same team that could barely put a shot on net in an overtime loss in Game 2 twice gave Lundqvist a two- goal lead on Wednesday, and though he gave it all back once and half of it back again, his 27 saves were enough to tie the series.

"You don't want him to have to have a shutout every time out for us to win," Rick Nash said. "It was definitely nice for us to give him a cushion. We knew we had to score more goals. We just skated more, got to pucks, took more shots and created traffic in front."

Lundqvist was a grateful recipient of the extra dose of breathing room, admitting it's nice once in a while "when you don't have to be perfect."

Back in Game 2, Lundqvist nearly was. That night, he deserved better, and everyone on the Rangers knew it. Even the usually circumspect Lundqvist all but said it, using the immediate aftermath of a 1-0 loss and 0-2 hole to vent the frustration pent up inside.

"We need everybody do play their best," was how Lundqvist threw down the gauntlet after Game 2, knowing full well what the Rangers needed: "Just a goal."

His teammates had no choice but to listen. If Lundqvist could do his part, stopping 37 shots across three-plus periods, he had every right to complain when his teammates couldn't do theirs, and when an offense failed to generate even one shot across the final 17:43, he had a right to be annoyed. "I wasn't challenging guys, but in the playoffs, if you want to win, we need everyone to do their part," he said. …

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