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Lundqvist, Rangers aim to continue Game 7 success

by Dan Rosen /

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers returned to practice Tuesday with a focused approach to their preparation for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist might as well have been the poster boy, judging by his comments after practice.

"I see myself in the situation and I remind myself what I need to do, that's my game," Lundqvist said. "There is no secrets. I have been doing the same stuff for years. It's about consistency, how I approach it, and focus. It helps me be in the right place mentally."

Lundqvist and the Rangers earned the opportunity to play in Game 7 by winning Games 5 and 6, each by one goal. Each of their 11 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been decided by one goal. Nobody expects much to change Wednesday.

"When you start the playoffs you have to see it happen, you have to see good things happen to you and your team, and then you have to go out there and work for it," Lundqvist said. "It starts with believing. We were in a tough spot in this series and we believed we could force another game, and another game, and now we're here. It's a great team on the other side, they are going to come at us, and they showed it last game. We are going to have to play our best game if we want to win this one."

Lundqvist's experience in Game 7s should allow him to stay focused Wednesday. He has won an NHL-record five consecutive Game 7s and in six Game 7s has a 1.00 goals-against average and .965 save percentage.

He made 42 saves in Game 6 to help the Rangers get to Game 7 with a 4-3 win. Lundqvist has a 1.80 GAA and .941 save percentage in the series, and is 7-4 with a 1.68 GAA and .940 save percentage in the playoffs.

"His focus and preparation is by far one of the best I've ever seen in this game," coach Alain Vigneault said.

Experience is a factor for each team, even though the Rangers have more positive experience with a 5-0 record in Game 7s since 2012. Washington is 2-2 in Game 7s in the same time (the two losses were to the Rangers).

Sixteen of the 20 players the Rangers expect to play Wednesday have appeared in at least one Game 7, and as many as six (Lundqvist, Martin St. Louis, Dominic Moore, Dan Girardi). Lundqvist, Girardi, McDonagh, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin have won the past five with New York.

Vigneault is 4-1 in Game 7s, including 2-0 with the Rangers.

J.T. Miller and rookies Jesper Fast and Kevin Hayes are the only Rangers' skaters who have not appeared in a Game 7. Backup goalie Cam Talbot also has not played in a Game 7, but he dressed for two last season.

"It's not uncharted territory, but there are some of our guys who haven't played a Game 7," St. Louis said. "You've got to make sure you know what to expect. It's still hockey. It's hockey at its highest level probably, but you get through your first shift, you get inside the battle, and it feels like a game."

St. Louis, whose teams are 5-1 in his six Game 7s, stressed the importance of a strong first shift.

"Obviously there's a lot on the line, but you get through those games by just getting through your first shift and building it up from there and really enjoying the moment in such an important game," St. Louis said.

"They're special games."


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