Lundqvist outstanding play keys Rangers' victory

Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 12:07 AM
Corey Masisak  - NHL.com Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Henrik Lundqvist helped keep the New York Rangers close while the Philadelphia Flyers controlled play for most of the first two periods Monday.

Eventually the Rangers rallied to claim a one-goal lead in the Bridgestone 2012 NHL Winter Classic, and then they needed to rely on their goaltender once again.

Lundqvist helped thwart a late comeback attempt by the Flyers, including a signature moment in this Classic when he turned aside a penalty shot from Danny Briere with 19.6 seconds left in the third period of a 3-2 victory.

It was the first penalty shot attempt in the five-year history of the Winter Classic.

"I was just trying to be patient," Lundqvist said. "I know he's a tricky guy, so if I make the first move he's going to score. It was a lot of pressure on me there. I couldn't believe they called the penalty shot, but it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. The atmosphere was pretty intense."

There were some frantic moments as the Rangers clung to their one-goal lead, but none more so than when Briere tried to stuff the puck past Lundqvist in the final minute. He was able to squeeze it past the goalie under his right leg, but Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh dove into the crease and kept it from crossing the goal line.

The official ruled McDonagh covered the puck in the crease and awarded the Flyers a penalty shot. It was a chance for Philadelphia to tie the game in the final minute.

New Jersey's Zach Parise had a chance to tie a game in the final minute with a penalty shot earlier this year and also did not score. In fact, in the past 15 years, none of the 11 penalty shots attempted by a team down one goal in the final minute of a game have been successful.

"All I was thinking was this game was going to overtime, that's what I was thinking," Briere said. "I was convinced of it. Unfortunately, he was quicker than me. I made the wrong decision. It's going to happen. We all have a few moves coming in like that and I thought I saw something quick. I tried to surprise him."

That save probably will be remembered as the defining moment of this Classic, but Lundqvist's work in the opening 30 minutes, when the game was scoreless, proved to be very important, as well. Philadelphia carried the play for long stretches in the opening half of the game, but Lundqvist made several key saves before the Rangers settled in.

He also gave up a pair of goals -- one on a rebound and another on a world-class backhand by Claude Giroux. That was all for the Flyers, though, as Lundqvist went 10-for-10 in the third period to help his team complete the comeback.

"He was great again tonight," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "It seems like we've been saying that every game. Again, that's (Lundqvist) to come up with a big save at the end there and seal the deal for us."

"You want to find a good balance," said Lundqvist. "I'm always very focused going into the game and during the game, but at the same time, you want to be able to enjoy this. I caught myself a couple of times being too relaxed and then a couple of times I just had to calm down. You want to find that perfect balance where you enjoy it, but at the same time you get the job done. I felt like most of the time, I did that ... For the build-up and all of the talk, all of the focus, it was worth it. It's been an amazing experience."

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