NEW YORK -- There was one last chant of "Hen-rik!" not the loud, insistent version that followed saves like the one he made on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson in the second period, but more like a thank you from the Madison Square Garden crowd for a playoff of brilliant goaltending.
There was one more stick wave in recognition, one last goodbye before another Stanley Cup-free summer. Then it was time for Henrik Lundqvist to bid farewell to his six-game winning streak in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and get ready for an offseason that's starting too soon.
Lundqvist and the New York Rangers came up one game short of a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final on Friday when the Lightning scored twice in the third period for a 2-0 victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final."
They remember the fluttering shot from the point that found its way past goalie Corey Crawford. They remember the stunned silence inside United Center after Game 7 of the Western Conference Final ended at 5:47 of overtime. They remember the empty feeling of coming just short of playing the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
It's a feeling they've tried to erase but will carry with them into Game 7 of the 2015 conference final against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
ANAHEIM – The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks have spent the past two weeks writing one of the most epic scripts ever authored in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The first six games of the Western Conference Final have been filled with unexpected plot twists, twists of fate, heroic efforts and the occasional appearance by a villain or two.
"For sure, it's been great," Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said Friday. "We've had a blast with this series, this playoff in general. Going into Game 7], I think we were well aware these are two hockey teams that have a lot of top-end talent, right through the lineup. That's one thing we were definitely looking forward to, those matchups."
It's cool when you think about how many great American players have played the game and the two players that were at that 18-game point streak and what they've done in their careers. It's pretty cool right now, but it was kind of overshadowed by the loss.
— Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after breaking the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Kings