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Henrik Lundqvist must deliver for Rangers against Senators in Game 6

Goalie, who has played well when facing elimination, needs to have 'his Hank on' to help New York keep season alive

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Henrik Lundqvist better have "his Hank on" if the New York Rangers want any chance to extend their season beyond Tuesday.

That was the term center Derek Stepan used after practice Monday to describe Lundqvist's pregame focus. He said he made it up on the spot when talking to a few reporters but it could catch on if Lundqvist does what he's done so often when the Rangers have faced elimination.

The Rangers trail the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Second Round. Game 6 of the best-of-7 series is at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Personally I know how I need to play my game to have success," Lundqvist said. "I just need to do it [Tuesday] and do it well."

Lundqvist has done it well in elimination games for his entire NHL career. He's the biggest reason why the Rangers have played 92 Stanley Cup Playoff games since 2012, the most of any team in the League.

 

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Lundqvist is 15-5 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .945 save percentage when the Rangers have faced elimination dating to Game 6 against the Senators in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (they won that series after trailing 3-2).

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Lundqvist dives to glove Turris' shot

It should be noted that he gave up six goals and the Rangers were eliminated in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round last season.

Nevertheless, at home Lundqvist is 10-1 with a 1.05 GAA and .965 save percentage and two shutouts in his past 11 games when the Rangers have faced elimination since Game 4 of the 2008 conference semifinals against the Penguins. He allowed one goal or fewer in nine of those 11 games.

The loss came in Game 7 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final, when Lundqvist allowed two goals on 25 shots and lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That was the last time the Rangers faced elimination at the Garden.

For his NHL career, Lundqvist is 16-10 with a 1.99 GAA and .937 save percentage when facing elimination.

"He just comes in with his focus and you can tell that he's ready," Stepan said. "He's got that look in his eyes that he's ready to go compete. He doesn't have rituals. I'm just talking about the way he carries himself. He's got his Hank on."

Lundqvist didn't have his Hank on in Game 5 in Ottawa on Saturday. He allowed five goals on 37 shots, including Derick Brassard's game-tying 6-on-5 goal with 1:26 remaining in the third period and Kyle Turris' goal 6:28 into overtime.

Brassard's goal was the second game-tying 6-on-5 goal the Rangers have allowed in this series. They also did it in Game 2, when Lundqvist allowed six goals on 34 shots.

"That's been a huge part of this series," Lundqvist said of the 6-on-5 goals. "For 55 minutes in a couple games up there we've been in pretty good shape, but that's the past."

So too are Games 3 and 4, but Lundqvist can use the success he had in those games at MSG to bolster his confidence even more going into Game 6.

Video: NYR@OTT, Gm5: Lundqvist shuts down Ryan's rush

He allowed two goals on 50 shots to help the Rangers win each game, 4-1. New York had 4-0 leads in each. His teammates played extremely well in front of him, limiting Ottawa's Grade A chances and controlling possession, but Lundqvist took care of his job when he had to.

A similar formula will get the Rangers to Game 7.

"We need Hank to be Hank," coach Alain Vigneault said.

He's been Hank, or, rather, gotten his Hank on, so often in potential elimination situations that he feels his experience can and should help him going into Game 6.

"I think it helps a lot of guys to know what type of mindset you need," Lundqvist said. "It's not so much about game plan. It's going to come down to how you focus, how you manage your thoughts, and from there you're going to execute better."

That Lundqvist has been so good is serving to help his teammates turn their focus to Game 6 instead of thinking about giving up late leads in two games and having that woe is me feeling because they've statistically been the much better team in this series.

The Rangers have led for nearly 180 of the more than 329 minutes played in the series. They've trailed for 13:10. They have scored the first goal in all five games and have outscored the Senators 18-15, including 4-1 in special teams.

"At the end of the day there's no sense in even wasting a second thinking about that," Vigneault said.

They can't because the only thing that matters is Game 6, extending their season at least one more game, pushing the Senators to the brink of elimination.

The only way they'll even have a chance is if Lundqvist gives it to them.

He better have his Hank on.

"Every single time we step on the ice we know we have one of the best goaltenders, if not the best goaltender in the League," Stepan said. "Especially when we get into these situations, this guy turns it on to a whole new level and he's elite. I know our group is fully confident in that part of his game. We look forward to putting that same level in front of him to make ourselves a real strong team."

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