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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Rangers block 26 shots in Game 1

Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 12:12 AM

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / Bracket Challenge Blog

Henrik Lundqvist is undoubtedly one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Fortunately for the Rangers' goaltender, though, he's receiving plenty of help from his defense.

With Monday night's 3-0 win, Lundqvist has now faced 23 shots or fewer in four straight contests. He went 21-for-21 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden for his ninth win of the postseason.

Dan Girardi
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 9
SOG: 27 | +/-: 3
Lundqvist would have faced more than 40 shots Monday night if not for his relentless defense. Through the first 40 minutes, the Rangers had already blocked 18 shots. Eight more didn't find their way to the net in the third period as New York finished the evening with 26 blocked shots. Ten of those came from the duo of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, who had five apiece.

"I thought he played really strong the whole night and helped out in front blocking shots," Lundqvist said of Girardi. "I always know what to expect from him, and it's a great feeling as a goalie."

Added Devils coach Peter DeBoer: "You can't get frustrated by something you expect. We know that's what they do, and you've got to find a way around it. We still generated enough offensive opportunities to score some goals tonight."

Make it 183, and counting -- Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur made his 183rd consecutive playoff start Monday night. Eighteen years ago, he found himself in a heated Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers, a series the latter took in a wild seventh game that ended in double overtime.

Brodeur has won three Stanley Cups since Stephane Matteau ended New Jersey's season on that raucous night at Madison Square Garden. And while he's now 40 years of age, he looked like a 22-year-old midway through the third period, when he dove across the crease to make a ridiculous save on Staal. Brodeur finished with 25 saves in Monday's 3-0 loss.

"Desperation," Brodeur said of his save on Staal. "I didn't know if he had the puck or not, I just kind of jumped anyway and he shot it at the same time. I got a little lucky."

Solid start -- The Rangers have been successful in the past when winning the first game of a series.

With Monday's win, New York has now won six of its last nine Game 1s. Overall, the Blueshirts are 32-11 when winning a series opener. They've also taken seven of their last eight series when winning the first game.

"To get the first win is obviously huge," said Girardi, who had a goal and an assist. We battled for the first two periods to give ourselves a chance to win."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round