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Lundqvist shines to help Rangers even series

by Evan Sporer /

NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals had their chances against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist during Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series.

It was nothing new for the Capitals, who faced Lundqvist for the 28th time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday since 2009. But with the Capitals looking to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series, it was Lundqvist who stood tall, leading the Rangers to a 3-2 win.

Lundqvist made 30 saves on 32 shots, 15 of which came in the second period which the Rangers entered with a 2-0 lead. The Capitals managed to cut it to 2-1, but if not for Lundqvist, the Rangers could have entered the third period tied or trailing.

"He was the best player on the ice, same guy that we see every game," New York center Derick Brassard said. "He was pretty [mad] after the game, Game 1, and he came back [Saturday].

"I thought he played like he was [mad]."

The Rangers lost Game 1 on Thursday when forward Joel Ward scored with 1.3 seconds left in regulation time, breaking a 1-1 tie by sneaking a one-time shot under Lundqvist's pads. On Saturday, nothing came easy for Washington. Lundqvist set the tone early, sprawling out on his side and getting his glove on an undefended Alex Ovechkin shot from in close.

"After what happened last game, we were all upset, and I was really annoyed, and it really bothered me," Lundqvist said. "You try to use that energy in a good way in this game and really be determined that we need this one."

If it was Lundqvist who was annoyed after Game 1, it might have been the Capitals who were annoyed with Lundqvist after the second period. He stacked the pads and got his blocker on an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot with no Ranger in the vicinity. Later in the period, forward Troy Brouwer went one-on-one against Lundqvist, who came out of his crease to cut down the angle and got a piece of Brouwer's shot with an outstretched skate.

"In the second period, it was a pretty open game. There was big chances both ways," Lundqvist said. "I don't know how the game turned so open in the second there, but there was a minute there where it was back and forth, and as a goalie you just try to be there and make that extra save."

Lundqvist's best save may have come against defenseman Mike Green. He stopped Green's initial shot with his glove, but the puck fluttered out and Lundqvist parried it away with his blocker as it was falling into the open net. The save was reminiscent of one Lundqvist made against Montreal Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek in Game 6 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, a game the Rangers won 1-0 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

"We have to leave everything out there," Lundqvist said. "You don't want any regrets this time of the year, so you just have to go out there and work as hard as you can, and we came up with some big plays at the right time today."


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