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Lundqvist suffers a rare off night

Friday, 04.24.2009 / 11:50 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- Henrik Lundqvist sat in his locker stall and faced the media like a big boy Friday night. He wasn't ducking any questions and he sat there to answer every last one of them.

Maybe the guy who stopped 141 of the first 149 shots he faced in this series deserves a mulligan for allowing four goals on 14 shots in only 40 minutes of work Friday night, but he wasn't about to give himself one.

"I'm not going to analyze this," said Lundqvist, who was pulled after the second period in favor of Steve Valiquette. "I know I have to play better and I know I can play better. I know I have to play better in order to win this series. A lot of times it starts with me and it's tough when we get a start like that."

Of all the people to do damage, it was Washington's third-line right wing, Matt Bradley, who beat Lundqvist twice within the first 12:07 of the game. Bradley had all of five goals during the regular season. It was the first two playoff goals of his career.

Lundqvist has every right to blame the Rangers' anemic power play on the first one. Michal Rozsival coughed the puck up at the point and then Bradley beat him to it in the neutral zone before zipping by Chris Drury and coming in for a breakaway.

He deked to his backhand and roofed the puck into the net 4:58 into the game.

"The first one, our power play was not good," Lundqvist said.

The second one, though, was all on Lundqvist.

Bradley admittedly wasn't thinking about scoring when he sent the puck toward the net from about 25-feet out nearly parallel to the left post. However, the puck squeezed through Lundqvist's five-hole and went into the net, giving the Caps' a 2-0 lead just 12:07 into the game.

That was the goal that gave the Capitals renewed hope that they can beat Lundqvist, which they did twice more on goals by Alexander Semin and an absolute thriller from Alex Ovechkin.

"I made a bad decision and tried to stand up and cover the five hole, but my pads are not built like that to cover that well so I have to go down on one knee and I didn't," Lundqvist said of Bradley's second goal. "I thought it would be good enough to stand up like that, but it went through. Just a bad decision. That's on me, that goal, no question about it."

Lundqvist, though, has earned enough respect in this series alone that even when he gives up a goal that he calls "brutal," he gets the folks on the other bench thinking.

"The thing that worried me about that is when I saw it go in I said, 'Oh, he's going to be great the next game,' because they always bounce back and are great," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I anticipate him being great on Sunday."

He should because Lundqvist had been great until Game 5, but just a little bit of the shine came off him Friday night and he knows it.

"I still think the pressure is on them because I still think they're the better team," Lundqvist said. "They end in the second spot and we're in the seventh spot. We still have a good chance to come back to New York and play a better game; as a team and personally for me."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com



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