Lundqvist bailed out his teammates and made 10 of his 31 saves in the scoreless frame, then stayed strong as they caught up to him in a 2-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.
Chris Drury scored his first goal since opening night, Michal Rozsival added one in the third, and Lundqvist posted his third shutout of the season by holding off the struggling Caps.
"Another night at the office," Lundqvist said. "It was an intense game. It felt like they were all over us a little bit."
Lundqvist has played all 12 games this season and has no interest in taking a night off anytime soon. He is showing the form he finished with last season when he went 16-4-6 down the stretch and posted a 1.89 goals-against average in his final 44 games.
"You have to give all the credit to Hank," forward Brendan Shanahan said. "He kept us in the game the first period. He was great throughout, but in the first period it was really just him."
It's that kind of play that makes the team's defense-first system work that much better. Lundqvist has been a big reason why the punchless Rangers have had early success. He has allowed 20 goals this season and raised his shutout total to 10 in three NHL years.
New York (5-6-1) has won two straight for the first time this season and is 3-1 on its six-game homestand despite scoring a league-low 21 times overall.
"He's definitely on his game," said Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig, who made 26 saves. "He's the reason the Rangers have won five games. They'll be scary if they ever get their offense together."
Lundqvist made back-to-back rapid fire saves late in the second period, and robbed Viktor Kozlov in the first with a big pad stop that had the Russian center shaking his head. The crowd chanted his name as the final seconds ticked off.
Drury gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Rozsival doubled it during New York's two-man advantage at 9:34 of the third, 33 seconds into the power play.
Washington had a chance to get back into it with under 8 minutes left when defenseman Fedor Tyutin was given a double minor for hooking and slashing. The Rangers were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and have allowed only one goal in their past 27 short-handed situations.
The Capitals lost for the seventh time in nine games following a 3-0 start that had them thinking of getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. They have already dropped both road meetings with the Rangers in a three-week span.
"We didn't capitalize in the first period when we had lots of chances," Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. "I was asked before the game who the top goalies in the league were and I said there are lots of them and you were going to watch two of them."
Washington hasn't won at Madison Square Garden since Jan. 28, 2004 (0-6-1).
Kolzig shook off being run into several times, including a collision with Drury in the first period that flattened Kolzig on his back and then his stomach.
Drury, signed along with Scott Gomez to a big free-agent contract in the summer, got the shaft of his stick on a drive by rookie defenseman Marc Staal in the second period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 6:45.
It was the first NHL point for the 20-year-old Staal, whose brothers Eric (Carolina) and Jordan (Pittsburgh) are already star forwards in the NHL.
Drury had the winning goal and two assists against Florida in his Rangers debut on Oct. 4 but then fell into the scoring slump that has plagued the entire New York team.
"I've been getting a lot of good chances," Drury said. "I knew if I kept playing hard and kept working at it, I had a feeling that things would happen."
Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr has only two goals this season, and Shanahan has three - two of which came Tuesday night in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Notes: The Capitals were without captain Chris Clark, who missed his third game after being struck on the left ear by a shot in Friday's loss to Vancouver. D Tom Poti (strained groin) sat out for the fourth time, and LW Alexander Semin (ankle) has been limited to four games this season. ... Shanahan was credited with his third goal of the season and his 1,300th NHL point, two days after he scored it. A goal initially given to Jagr on Tuesday was changed to Shanahan on Thursday.
|Chris Drury (2) ASST: Marc Staal (1), Brendan Shanahan (4)|
1 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Michal Rozsival (3) ASST: Scott Gomez (2), Chris Drury (7)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Marek Malik Holding against Matt Bradley|
|Chris Drury Hooking against Michael Nylander|
|Michael Nylander Hooking against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Brian Sutherby Hooking against Brandon Dubinsky|
|John Erskine Elbowing against Petr Prucha|
|Fedor Tyutin Hooking against Brooks Laich|
|Fedor Tyutin Slashing against Brooks Laich|