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Henrik Lundqvist proud to join 400-win club

Rangers goalie also happy milestone came in front of home fans

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made his NHL debut on Oct. 8, 2005. He had one thing on his mind.

"The first year you just try to stay here," he said.

In his 12th year he made history.

Lundqvist became the fastest goalie in NHL history and the 12th overall to win 400 games by making 32 saves in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. He reached the milestone in 727 games, all with the Rangers.

"It's incredible," captain Ryan McDonagh said.

Lundqvist joins a group that is led by his longtime rival, former New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, the League's all-time leader in wins with 691 and a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018.

The 400 club also features seven goalies already in the Hall of Fame in Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Grant Fuhr. Fellow 400-game winners Curtis Joseph, Roberto Luongo and Chris Osgood could eventually get into the Hall.

Video: COL@NYR: Lundqvist notches his 400th career win

Brodeur, Esposito, Fuhr, Hall, Plante, Roy and Sawchuk are on the list of 100 Greatest NHL Players.

"You look at the names and you're like, 'Wow,' " Lundqvist said. "Those are some great goalies and they played a huge part for their clubs and the League when they played. I'm proud of that."

Lundqvist, though, isn't ready to analyze how he stacks up with them just yet.

"They still accomplished more than I have," he said. "I'm still in the middle of things. When I'm done maybe I start to look at it a little bit more. Right now I'm proud for sure, but I try not to reflect too much because I just want to get going. I want to get back to work [Sunday] and keep improving my game."

Lundqvist had to improve his game this season to get to the rhythm he's in now.

He struggled in early December and was sat down for four straight games as Antti Raanta got the starts against the Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Devils and Blackhawks again.

Lundqvist hit another rough patch in January, when he allowed 20 goals in a span of four straight starts. He was also pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots in 23:38 against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 31.

Since then, Lundqvist has won five starts in a row, with a .946 save percentage. He has allowed 10 goals on 184 shots in wins against the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators and Avalanche.

"Hank worked at this," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He worked a little bit on different things on his game. I think right now he's challenging the shooters a little bit more and for me that's enabling him right now to play a real solid game. The guys in front of him are letting him see the puck a little bit more and boxing out better. You combine those two things together and you get a goaltender that finds his rhythm."

Video: COL@NYR: Lundqvist stands tall to make stick save

Lundqvist wanted to keep his rhythm going Saturday even though it looked like a perfect spot for Vigneault to give him a rest considering the Rangers play in Columbus on Monday and the Avalanche are the League's worst team, with 32 points.

However, Lundqvist told Benoit Allaire, the only goalie coach he has had in New York, that he wanted to keep playing and Allaire relayed that message to Vigneault, who also wanted to give Lundqvist a chance to win his 400th game in front of the Garden fans.

"He's got a real special relationship with our fans," Vigneault said.

It showed Saturday as they chanted his name like they have since he arrived in 2005.

"It really played out perfectly," Lundqvist said. "It was just a great feeling. I had goosebumps the last couple of minutes there. It was intense. I really wanted to get this win in front of the fans because they've meant a lot to me over the 12 years I've been here.

"Winning at MSG, the crowd is really into it, and it's just the best feeling. That's why you go to work every morning and try to improve your game."

He'll do it again Sunday, for the first time as a 400-game winner.

"At times it is a little surreal when you live this life," Lundqvist said, "but I love it."

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