Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers: Henrik Will Bounce Back

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers: Henrik Will Bounce Back

Article excerpt

MONTREAL -- Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers didn't get the job done in chance No. 1 to earn a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Losing again tonight in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden would mean going to a Game 7 in these Eastern Conference finals. And, as comfortable as the Rangers have shown they are in Game 7s, winning their last five, including two already this year, they'd understandably prefer to finish off the Habs tonight and avoid going back to what would be a raucous Bell Centre on Saturday night.

"In this situation, to win a game you go to the Stanley Cup Final, you know it's desperate time," Rangers center Brad Richards said before the team flew home from Montreal. "You don't want to go back to a Game 7 where anything can happen. We want to get this done, and we did [Tuesday] night, too."

Wanting and doing have been two different things for the Rangers, though, when it comes to closing out playoff series before they reach a Game 7. With Tuesday's 7-4 loss in Game 5, they are 0-5 since 2009 when they've had a chance to clinch in fewer than seven games, including a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia in Game 6 of this year's first-round series.

A master in Game 7s, Lundqvist hasn't demonstrated much of a killer instinct before that.

When the 32-year-old netminder was replaced by backup Cam Talbot 8:58 into the second period Tuesday night after giving up four goals on 19 shots, it was the fourth time he was pulled in those aforementioned five games.

In six career Game 7s, Lundqvist is 5-1 with a 1.00 goals- against average, .965 save percentage and one shutout. In his last five clinching attempts that weren't Game 7s, however, Lundqvist is 0-4 with a 5.53 GAA and .808 save percentage.

"All of us have to be better," Lundqvist said after Game 5, "starting with me."

Still missing that Stanley Cup title that would make his world- class resume complete, Lundqvist struggled Tuesday, giving up at least two soft goals.

Lundqvist talked Tuesday night about needing "to have a short memory and move on" quickly.

If he can, tonight's game would be the biggest of his career. If not, Game 7 certainly would be a defining moment for him.

"I think as a group we have to come back with a better performance," Lundqvist said. "There's a lot of focus on me, but we all have to step up here."

Lundqvist was not among the Rangers' players to speak at the team's media availability Wednesday, but his teammates and coach expressed confidence that he will bounce back tonight.

"You guys all see how competitive he is and that's not going to sit well," Richards said of Lundqvist being pulled. "Even when he plays good, he's focused.

"I would imagine we're going to see one of his better performances, especially going back to his [home] crowd and wanting to rebound from that. It's not something we'll have to worry about. …

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