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Rangers backup Talbot marveling over Lundqvist

by Mike G. Morreale

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot couldn't name something specific that has changed in teammate Henrik Lundqvist since the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Well, maybe one thing.

"He has risen to a new level since Game 5 of the Pittsburgh Penguins series," Talbot said with a grin.

Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round was the first of what has become five straight victories for the Rangers, during which Lundqvist has allowed six goals. He is 10-6 with a 1.93 goals-against average and NHL-leading .934 save percentage in 16 postseason games.

Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final is Thursday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.

"He's the same focused and intense guy in the dressing room; I couldn't pinpoint one thing that he's changed drastically about his game or attitude, other than the fact that he may be more focused when the game is on the line," Talbot said of Lundqvist. "But I think everyone has taken their game to the next level in the playoffs, as has [Lundqvist]."

Talbot made his only playoff appearance in the first round, April 29 against the Philadelphia Flyers in relief. He stopped all five shots he faced in the third period of a 5-2 loss in Game 6.

He said the one thing he's taken from Lundqvist during the Rangers' run in the playoffs is his composure.

"I never really have a chance to talk to him before a game because he's so focused and always in the zone," Talbot said. "Just the way he prepares himself night in and night out is pretty remarkable. He never lets anything get to him; he's prepared and ready for the next shot, the next period.

"His mental strength is great."

Talbot said it was difficult learning Canadiens goalie Carey Price would be lost for the remainder of series because of injury following a collision with Rangers forward Chris Kreider in Game 1.

"You never want to see a goalie go down like that, especially their No. 1 guy; it was a scary incident," Talbot said. "It's going to be tough for their team to rebound from that and replace him, but at the same time they came out hard [in Game 2] and I don't think goaltending was an issue for them.

"[Dustin] Tokarski played well filling in [for Price], but Hank was Hank last game. If not for [Lundqvist], it could have been a different game."


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