New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist kept his team from being swept out of the Stanley Cup Final by making 40 saves in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 on Wednesday. He also extended his own brilliance in elimination games.
Lundqvist is 5-0 this season in win-or-go-home games. He and the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round, then won Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round before beating the Kings.
He's been even better at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is 8-0 in his past eight elimination games on home ice with a goals-against average of 0.99, a save percentage of .968 and two shutouts. Overall, Lundqvist is 11-2 in his past 13 elimination games, with a 1.30 GAA, a .959 save percentage and two shutouts.
The Rangers' eight straight wins at home when facing elimination are an NHL record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous mark of seven was held by the Detroit Red Wings (1934-40 and 1949-55) and the Montreal Canadiens (1941-50).
Lundqvist's brilliance has made this the longest spring in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 5 in Los Angeles on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) will be the 93rd game of this postseason, one more than the 92 played in 1991. The Kings will be playing their 26th game, tying them with the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers and 2004 Calgary Flames for the most games played in one playoff year.
The Kings won't face an elimination game unless the Rangers can win twice more, but they've been even better when the stakes are high: Los Angeles is 7-0 this spring when facing elimination.
The Kings also still have history on their side. Of the 26 previous teams to win the first three games in the Final, 25 have won the Stanley Cup.