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Lundqvist on Gold: "It's a Tough Feeling to Describe"

Goaltender talks about celebration, winning with his brother

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Two weeks ago, Henrik Lundqvist spoke about there still being gas in the tank following the Rangers' six-game loss to the Ottawa Senators in the second-round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which led him to join Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Championships

Today, there's less but for good reason, as Lundqvist went a perfect 4-0 in the tournament to help lead Sweden to its 10th Gold Medal at the tournament following a 2-1 shootout victory against Canada on Sunday.

"It's a tough feeling to describe," Lundqvist said of the victory in an exclusive interview with NYRangers.com on Wednesday. "When you're in that moment there's so much adrenaline and emotion. You're just super excited you pulled it off."

Lundqvist, who last played at the World Championships in 2008, said he told himself to "keep your cool" heading into Round 4 of the shootout. Nicklas Backstrom and Oliver Ekman-Larsson both scored for Sweden, while Lundqvist had stopped Nathan MacKinnon and Brayden Point before Ryan O'Reilly's chance hit the post.

All that stood in the way for Lundqvist and Sweden for a Gold Medal was Toronto's Mitch Marner. As he's done so often in New York in the shootout, Lundqvist denied Marner with the blocker and pandemonium ensued as Lundqvist's teammates poured over the bench led by William Nylander, who tackled Lundqvist and instantly became a Twitter sensation in the process.

 "I saw him coming and I thought maybe a little jump," Lundqvist said laughing, "but he jumped so high there was no way to stand my ground.

"My first thought was 'I got this,' and my second thought was 'I don't got this,'" he added. "Then you just pile on there and everyone is just screaming."

The victory was made extra special as he got to share the moment with his twin brother, Joel, who plays for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League. It had been 12 years since the two were teammates, with the final game being an overtime victory that clinched the SHL title back in 2005.

Lundqvist, who said a reason for his desire to play in the tournament was to play alongside Joel, said the two got to spend time together during the tournament, something they don't get to do often enough.

"To reunite here and not only play the game, but it was also to get time off the rink and just hang," Lundqvist said. "We don't get that much time in the summer to just spend the two of us. On the plane, on the bus, the train to Paris, we just really enjoyed the time. It was great." 

The brothers' euphoria was evident in the postgame championship ceremony.

"I thought it was a little emotional - very emotional - to stand next to him on the blueline to realize we accomplished [the Gold]. It really brought me back to our young days and how much time we spent together working on the game and having those types of dreams to be in those situations."

Like many NHLers, Lundqvist takes immense pride in representing his home country. He said his love of the game dates back to watching Sweden compete in this very tournament.

"Growing up as a kid we had three channels on TV," he said. "The only hockey I watched was the World Championships every spring. That was the only hockey they showed. Growing up your first dreams when it came to hockey was playing for your country, playing for the national team. As you get older you watched the NHL more, but it really started with the national team." 

Lundqvist said the Rangers are "my life," but whenever the chance presents itself to play for Sweden, he will not pass it up. He said the success the Rangers have had since he arrived in New York at the start of the 2005-06 season has prevented him from playing in the tournament more frequently, and thus he did not want to squander this chance.

The success Lundqvist had with Sweden only fuels the fires for success back in New York. He said when he reflects on his success abroad, it motivates him even more for what it would be like to win the ultimate prize in his adopted home city.

"You look back at winning the Olympics, winning championships in Sweden, this World Championship, the feeling that you want to get there, and that's the big dream and vision I have for us in New York," he said. "To get it done because it is an amazing feeling to accomplish something that you set up as a goal and have as a dream for a long time."

After a long season that also included the World Cup of Hockey back in September, Lundqvist will now spend time with family in New York before returning home to Sweden in June to train and prepare for a return to the Big Apple in late August. 

Despite his offseason being in just its third day, Lundqvist was quick to already look ahead to improving his game for next season.

"Personally," he said, "I'm still reflecting on the season and what I need to improve on and what I need to work on over the summer to have a good year next year."

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