NEW YORK -- The opportunity was there for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and his teammates. It's going to be an awfully long offseason, knowing that the Rangers could have but didn't advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
Lundqvist, who turned 35 in March, missed yet another opportunity to potentially win the Stanley Cup, the championship that continues to elude him.
"Obviously, it's extremely disappointing," Lundqvist said after New York's season ended with a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the second round at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. "Quickly, you think about this series and I think there are two things that stand out: the odd-man rushes that they kind of took advantage of and our 6-on-5 play. That was the big difference in this series. Other than that, I thought we played really well. We created a lot of chances and played with a lot of speed and emotion.
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"But obviously losing all three up in Ottawa, where we had a chance to win a couple, I think, it hurt us big time in this series. It's a big one today to lose, but it definitely hurt us not getting it done up there being up a couple of goals."
Lundqvist started all 12 games for the Rangers in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He went 6-6 with a 2.25 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and one shutout.
But he allowed six goals in Game 2 of this series, two of which were scored in the final 3:19 of the third period to send that game to overtime. The Rangers lost 6-5 and returned to New York down 2-0 in the series.
"I think we played well enough to win a lot of games here," Lundqvist said. "We talked about it during the season that sometimes it is not about playing your best game, it is about finding a way to win games. They did that better than we did. But I thought we played really well. We put ourselves in a position to win almost every game. We just didn't get it done."
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Lundqvist lays out to rob Karlsson
New York took a 4-3 lead in Game 5 when Jimmy Vesey scored at 12:48 of the third period, but former Rangers center Derick Brassard scored with 1:26 remaining to tie it and Kyle Turris scored in overtime to give the Senators a 3-2 series lead.
"The last few minutes there in a couple of games, like I said, it hurt us there really bad in the series," Lundqvist said. "We believed until the end that we could pull it off. Like you saw, we had a great third period [tonight], a great push, but we came up short. It's going to hurt for a while."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was in no mood after Game 6 to start the evaluation process of what should be an eventful offseason, especially with the NHL Expansion Draft in June. The Rangers likely will have somewhat of a different look next season, particularly on defense.
As it has been for more than a decade, whenever Rangers brass begins that evaluation process, the focus will be on trying to find a way to give Lundqvist the best possible chance to hoist the Stanley Cup before it's too late.
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm6: Lundqvist steers away bouncing puck
"We are just going to have to wait and see," Lundqvist said. "Right now, all you feel is disappointment and it's a numb feeling. It's not a great feeling. You realize how much work and how many hours you put into this to put yourself in this spot to get this chance. You started in July, last summer, to start to train and to prepare.
"It was right there for us. Obviously, the next week or so, you are going to analyze your own game and analyze what we did as a group and personally, see what we could have done better and learn from it."