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Lundqvist doesn't miss time, helps Rangers win Game 2

After leaving Game 1 with eye injury, goalie makes 29 saves against Penguins

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- When it comes to goalie Henrik Lundqvist, nothing surprises the New York Rangers.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lundqvist played one period, was poked in the eye by Marc Staal's stick and immediately allowed the opening goal to Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist.

Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist for the remaining two periods of a 5-2 loss.

Lundqvist's status remained up in the air through the next two days until Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was asked if he would start two hours before Game 2 at Consol Energy Center on Saturday.

"Yep, he's good to go," Vigneault said.

Lundqvist was, and made 29 saves to help the Rangers to a 4-2 win that tied best-of-7 series.

"I think we probably take it for granted at this point," New York forward Chris Kreider said. "He's our best player. He has been all year, and he played like it tonight."

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm2: Lundqvist denies Letang's one-timer

After fearing he could have suffered severe damage to his eye a few days earlier, Lundqvist returned to form Saturday. He battled through a scoreless first period making 10 saves, including two on point-blank deflections from Kris Letang and Hornqvist.

Lundqvist surrendered a goal to Phil Kessel 3:21 into the second period and Saturday felt similar to Wednesday. Until New York scored two goals, each set up by forward J.T. Miller, in 18 seconds to take a 2-1 lead, its first of the series, with 7:04 remaining in the period.

The Rangers grabbed the momentum but had not taken full control of the game. That came 2:30 later when Lundqvist denied forward Bryan Rust on a breakaway that could have sapped New York of the energy it had built.

Rust's wrist shot was gloved down and the Rangers led by two goals 1:16 later after Mats Zuccarello's first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm2: Lundqvist gets a glove on Rust's shot

"Every save matters. For a goalie, that's what you have to tell yourself," Lundqvist said. "Every goal, every save, can turn a game. Obviously, it was a big moment in the game. I'm just happy I came up with the save and, the first two games here, it's been about taking advantage of mistakes out there and the opportunities you get, making sure you bury some."

Lundqvist put on a performance reminiscent of a year ago, when he helped the Rangers defeat the Penguins in five games. In that first-round series, each of New York's victories were 2-1, but given his health in recent days, Lundqvist was possibly as impressive Saturday.

"Anybody that's been around [Lundqvist] knows he's an elite goaltender and he's a big-game goaltender," Vigneault said. "He made a big save in the second … and after we were able to capitalize on a few of our chances."

In that series last postseason, Pittsburgh responded to a Game 1 loss with a 4-3 win in Game 2, but lost the following three games.

"It's a 1-1 series and I think we all know the back-and-forth that's happened the past few years," Lundqvist said. "It's first to four. Whatever you're feeling after a game, you just have to put it aside and momentum can change so many times back and forth. It was important for us to answer back here, but it's a tied series."

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