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Rangers goalie Lundqvist not bothered by Bell Centre

by Dan Rosen

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Sitting in a locker stall Thursday, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist jumped out of the line of fire for the first time in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, sidestepping a question about his history at Bell Centre in Montreal.

"It's so long ago since I played there, so I don't even remember," Lundqvist said.

Lundqvist hasn't played in Montreal since Jan. 15, 2012, serving as the Rangers backup in four straight games at Bell Centre. He hasn't won in the building since March 17, 2009.

In four appearances there since his prior win, Lundqvist is 0-3-1 with an .862 save percentage and 4.63 goals-against average. Canadiens goalie Carey Price is 4-1-0 with three shutouts and two goals allowed (149 saves on 151 shots) in his past five games against the Rangers.

On Feb. 19, 2008, Lundqvist was in net for the biggest comeback win in Montreal history. He allowed five unanswered goals over the final 31:32 of regulation when the Canadiens defeated the Rangers 6-5 in a shootout in front of their usual sellout crowd of 21,273.

Lundqvist is 4-5-2 with a 3.87 GAA and .876 save percentage in his career in Montreal.

Though it's understandable why Lundqvist would want to avoid the topic, he can't avoid the building anymore. Game 1 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final is Saturday at Bell Centre (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

"I look forward to going there," Lundqvist said. "It's a conference final in Montreal. That's special. I'm excited about that. When it comes to my game, I just try to go out and play the same way. Don't overthink it. Just go out and enjoy it."

If Lundqvist is showing little concern about his past, teammates and coach Alain Vigneault are showing less.

"Why should that worry me?" Vigneault said.

You can understand Vigneault's point. What else is he going to say? It's not like he's going to bench Lundqvist for Cam Talbot in the conference final the way he did in the two regular-season games there this season, including Game 82, which was meaningless for the Rangers.

Talbot made 22 saves in a 1-0 win against the Canadiens in Montreal on Nov. 16, and 26 saves in a 1-0 loss on April 12.

"I don't remember exactly what led me to playing Cam in that [first] 1-0 game," Vigneault said. "That's too far behind."

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh said Lundqvist's history in Montreal doesn't matter now because of how he's been playing lately.

Lundqvist won Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins by stopping 102 of 105 shots (.971 save percentage, 1.00 GAA). He had a 1.88 GAA and .940 save percentage in the seven-game series, and has a 1.99 GAA and .931 save percentage in 14 playoff games.

"His game has taken off here, obviously, the way it needs to for any team to have success in the playoffs," McDonagh said. "He'll be focused. He'll be prepared. We'll work hard to help him."

Center Derick Brassard said the Rangers are a different team now than when Lundqvist last played in Bell Centre, so that's why he thinks the stats are meaningless. Eight players who were on the Rangers for Lundqvist's last win in Montreal five years remain with the team.

"That's a guy that likes challenges," Brassard said of Lundqvist. "You say we're playing Montreal and I think he's pretty excited about it."


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