All hail Lundqvist, King of Game 7s

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist once again prevailed in a Game 7, where he typically dominates. Only allowing one goal, he is a major factor as New York moves on to the Conference Finals.

More than five years have passed since Henrik Lundqvist allowed more than one goal in a Game 7.

It’s not like the New York Rangers have dodged the advance-or-go-home contests either. Quite the opposite. New York’s 2-1 win in Tuesday night’s Game 7 was its fifth consecutive, and Lundqvist has backstopped each and every one of those.

“What a feeling,” Lundqvist told reporters post-game. “We battled so hard these last three games.”

Sometimes it’s easy to take The King for granted. Rangers fans in the New York area have bemoaned his play in big games, which is ludicrous. Lundqvist improved to 5-1 all-time in Game 7s and has won each of his last five, setting a new record for consecutive Game 7 victories. He has never allowed more than two goals in a Game 7 and sports a career 1.00 goals-against average in those crucial contests.

Credit Lundqvist for willing his team past the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had answers for everything except the Rangers’ goaltender. After allowing four goals on 27 shots in Game 4, and trailing the series 3-1, Lundqvist shut it down, stopping 102 of the 105 shots (.971) he faced in the series’ final three games, including 35 in the Rangers’ 2-1 Game 7 win.

“They were coming hard,” Lundqvist said. “I tried just to not think of the result, not think of the consequences, just see it as a challenge… but it was hard, because you know it’s getting closer and closer.”

According to, the Penguins posted a 63.1 Corsi-for percentage in Game 7 and attempted a whopping 59 per cent of all shots in games 6 and 7. And while the Rangers sat back in a defensive shell after Brian Boyle’s first-period goal in Game 7 — then for nearly the entire game after Brad Richards authored the game-winning marker at 7:56 of the second — The King bailed out his buddies.

“We understand the time and score, but we also understand who is in our net,” Boyle told MSG Network. “He was our MVP again.”

It would be hard to pinpoint Lundqvist’s best save in Game 7, because he made so many 10-bells. He shut down Chris Kunitz in the second on Pittsburgh’s three-on-two break. He stymied James Neal’s point-blank shot in the second period.

He stood tall during a slew of third-period chances in which Pittsburgh could have — and likely should have — tied the game, including a stop on Paul Martin without his goal stick in hand.

“Those saves with five minutes to go, those were the biggest saves I’ve seen him make since I’ve been here,” Rangers defenceman Marc Staal said, referencing the stop on Martin, which closed a frantic flurry. “We needed a big save there, and he made a bunch.”

Simply put, Lundqvist was the difference for the Rangers winning and losing the series. While Marc-Andre Fleury was solid, pitching a pair of shutouts in games 3 and 4, New York had the edge in goal — and should against nearly every other team.

After standing on his head, as always, Lundqvist was classy in victory.

“After losing that fourth game, it was tough,” Lundqvist said. “But when you face a challenge like that, it’s how you answer. We did it the right way. We came together as a group.”

Lundqvist hasn’t won the Stanley Cup in New York because even the greatest goaltenders of all-time wear out. But the Rangers would not be in the NHL’s final four for the second time in three years without him.

Perhaps, after 77 NHL appearances in 2013-14 — and six more backstopping Sweden to the gold-medal game in Sochi — 2014 is the year Lundqvist wills the Rangers over the top.

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