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Five Questions: Lundqvist on success under pressure

Tuesday, 05.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Five Questions: Lundqvist on success under pressure
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist addresses what goes into his uncanny success in elimination games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist:

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Sure, he'd rather be up in a Stanley Cup Playoff series, playing with a lead, with confidence and with the knowledge that win or lose, there will be a tomorrow. But if that were the case, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist wouldn't be referred to as the NHL's best goalie when facing elimination.

It's an earned title, even if Lundqvist and the Rangers would prefer their season didn't always seem to be hanging in the balance.

Lundqvist is 9-2 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in his past 11 potential elimination games, including 4-0 with one shutout, an 0.75 GAA and .973 save percentage in his past four Game 7s.

He'll get to perform in another one Tuesday at Consol Energy Center when the Rangers play the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"He's obviously a great goaltender and strives on playing well under pressure, takes his game to another level," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "But this Game 7 against this team, it's going to have to be a team effort. It's going to have to be everybody taking their game to another level."

Lundqvist wholeheartedly agrees. That much was evident Monday afternoon, when NHL.com spent some time talking with the goalie before the Rangers departed for Pittsburgh.

Here are Five Questions with … Henrik Lundqvist:

This team has been through these Game 7s quite often, almost like clockwork every season, but you've had success. You've won four Game 7s in a row. What is the key to that success for this group? Why have you had so much success in Game 7s?

"I think it's important to have the right mindset, obviously. You need to put the right amount of pressure on yourself. It's a great opportunity. At the same time, you have to go out feeling you have nothing to lose, everything to win. I think that makes you relax a little bit and enjoy it. That's what we try to do. It's a very special type of game to play. You want to enjoy it at the same time."

But this is the first time you guys as a team have gotten to Game 7 following wins in Games 5 and 6. Do you draw on that experience going into Game 7? Can you draw on that experience? Does it even matter?

"I feel like every game is a new chapter. It changes. The momentum swings so much during every game, but between games you start over. You go to the next game, a new building, and you just start over."

Do you consciously or subconsciously raise your level in an elimination game, because your numbers in elimination games lately are off the charts?

"It's a combination of things, really. I try to do my part, but it's also about the entire team accepting that challenge. As a group we've been playing well. Without that effort my numbers would not be that good. It's about just going into that game feeling good about ourselves and believing in what we've been doing lately. It's going to be probably the toughest test out of these seven games, but I look forward to that challenge."

When you see Sidney Crosby doing the type of things he was doing Sunday night in Game 6, out of character things for him like his stick work on Dominic Moore or his trip on Dan Girardi, what does that tell you about what you guys are doing against him?

"I try not to read too much on what they're doing, how they react to certain things. I try to focus on what we're doing. The last couple of games here we've been paying attention to all the details that we need to do really well to have success against this team, because they're good. When you lose pucks in the wrong areas they're coming, they're coming with three or four guys. But I don't really put any energy into reading what is going on, how they feel and the reactions they have. I worry about my own. I've got enough on my plate."

What is working so well on the penalty kill right now that you are 18-for-19 in the series, including 12-for-12 in the past four games?

"I think we're aggressive. A lot of times it's confidence too, making good reads. Especially against good players the reads are super important, when to go for it and when not to. It's a combination of a couple of things."

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