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Remembering Malik's Shootout 11 Years Later

"Even after 11 years. It makes me really happy and proud."

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Like Stephane Matteau, utter the name Marek Malik to Rangers fan and a smile will surely follow.

He was the unlikely hero that night 11 years ago on Nov. 26, 2005, when he scored a jaw-dropping shootout goal between his legs to end a 15-round shootout against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

In the years since, Malik, who left the NHL after the 2008-09 season, remembers the goal and that night fondly, and said he is proud to be part of such a historical moment in the Rangers' 90-year history.

That night is remembered below by those who experienced it first-hand: Malik; current Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist; former defenseman Jason Strudwick; and former head coach Tom Renney.

[Note: some answers have been condensed for size and clarity.]

Marek Malik: It's hard to believe it's been 11 years. But even more it's hard to believe people still think about it and kind of remember the goal. It makes me proud and happy because we tried to play hockey for the fans. The fans still go back even after 11 years. It makes me really happy and proud.

Jason Strudwick: It does seem not that long ago. It's a great memory not just because I scored. It was kind of the first big, long shootout that anyone had experienced.

Henrik Lundqvist: Some days it feels like a long time ago. My first year, this game especially with all the shootout rounds - it was very exciting. I remember that. I remember a couple of the shots actually. It was definitely a fun night at the Garden."

Tom Renney: [laughing] My claim to fame as a coach. There's been a lot that's happened between then and now, mind you that's life. It's a great memory, as is my entire time in New York and certainly that night is a conversation many people and I have had.

Video: Lundqvist stops Ovechkin in shootout

The game ended in a 2-2 deadlock after overtime, sending the game to a shootout. The first shooter for Washington? A rookie named Alex Ovechkin. Lundqvist would stop 12 of 15 shooters.

HL: Back then, you knew he was a good player, but looking back now and seeing what he's accomplished over these 11 years, it's pretty amazing.

You could see his energy on the ice. He wanted to score.

TR: I think what we confirmed that night was that Henrik Lundqvist was a fantastic goaltender and that he was going to be one for the ages. Maybe somewhat accelerated because of Kevin Weekes' injury, but once Henrik got in the net, you could tell it was going to be awfully tough for anyone to take the opportunity away from him. Building up to that night he had a very good season.

The love affair between Henrik and the fans in New York certainly solidified itself that night. The rest is still history in the making.

JS: I played with a lot of goalies, but I never played with someone like Hank. He came in and he was in the zone. He is one of the most competitive players I've ever played with. He always wanted to win. I love that in him and I think that carried through the whole team.

Andrew Cassels would score on Washington's second attempt, which was answered quickly by Michael Nylander's backhander to knot it up.

In round six, Brian Willsie beat Lundqvist, but Ville Nieminen answered it back with a goal to keep the shootout going.

Neither side scored from rounds seven through 13, leaving few names for either coach to choose from.

TR: It was crazy. It got to the point where it was really fun for everybody on the bench too. I saw guys looking at the floor because they didn't want to shoot. I saw other guys were looking at me and burning holes right through me because they wanted the opportunity. Others were calling out other's names as a suggestion. It was really quite hysterical quite honestly. I remember I don't know when I would have gotten to [Darius Kasparaitis], but I just wasn't quite there with it when we were calling names. He might have been the only one I wasn't quite sure about at the end of the day [laughing].

MM: Because it was the first season of shootouts it was kind of new for everybody. Even for the European guys because we had shootouts in Europe already, but the NHL it was new for us. Even in Europe, I don't remember long shootouts. The feeling on the bench was great.

HL: I just wanted to win. Try and stop the next one so we can end it. That's what you're trying to do when you're in a shootout. You're trying to regroup after each one. That was very crazy. The first year with the shootout in the League so it was new to the crowd.

Video: Strudwick scores in shootout

Washington's Bryan Muir scored to open Round 14. Renney called on defenseman Jason Strudwick to keep the Rangers alive. 

JS: I was getting nervous. I never really practiced that. You're like, 'Oh my god there's not a lot of options left here.'

I remember just thinking I had to hit the net. I have to give this a chance. I didn't want to give any crazy moves. Guys were saying the ice was getting choppy. I was going down just thinking I had to hit the net. I think Olie (Olaf Kolzig) thought I was going high. Actually he didn't know where I was going to do because I didn't know where I was going.

TR: The celebration afterwards was priceless. He jumps up on the glass and hammers the glass. Obviously very exciting for him. We've had many conversations about that night since then. All he wanted to do was not embarrass himself. I'm surprised he didn't shoot right into Kolzig's pads. He didn't want to miss the net for sure. It was one of those things that I was getting down to the short strokes and everyone was yelling 'Kasper! Kasper!' and I went to Struddy, and Struddy kept it alive.

HL: When he did score to keep it alive, he looked shocked and excited at the same time. That's something I remember a lot from that game.

After Lundqvist stopped Matt Bradley, the Rangers would have the chance to win the game with a goal. Renney called on Malik, the blueliner not known for his offense throughout a career that began back in the 1994-95 campaign.

Video: Marek Malik pulls puck between legs 15th round winner

MM: I don't know how I can explain it, but I had the feeling that if I go, I'm going to score. I don't know if I can explain it to anyone. Sometimes in your life, you know you're going to do something and you're going to do it. It's not something cocky, but I was just fully confident and maybe the stars were lining the right way. I don't know how to say it. I just knew.

I was totally calm. I knew what I was going to do from six or seven guys before me. If I went sooner, like six or seven guys earlier, I probably do something else. Because I was so late, I said to myself I'm going to do something to try and surprise the goalie. 

It looks like a really hard move or trick, but it's not that hard. It's pretty simple, especially when you have long legs and a long stick like I do. I was totally calm. I've had lots of people ask me if I was nervous and this and that. No, I was totally calm and have confidence in myself. I totally enjoyed that moment and it was a great feeling.

JS: I had to watch the highlight a few times. I was like 'what the hell did this guy just do?' I remember the bench just went crazy. Half went to Hank and half to Malik. Just a great feeling.

HL: I think everybody is thinking 'Did he just do that?' and then the second [thought] is that we won. It's always a great feeling to win at home, and that way obviously was special. It was a build up. It just got more and more intense and then he pulled that move off and it was a perfect ending to a great game.

MM: First of all I didn't even see the puck go in because of my position. I almost hit the referee in the corner. I knew I scored from the reaction of the crowd

I didn't know what to do exactly because all of MSG exploded and all the players were jumping on me. I did something polite, kind of calm, kind of high school reaction. I planned the shootout but I didn't plan the celebration after that.

TR: There was no relief. Relief wasn't part of the equation anymore. This was just flat out entertainment. And it was as simple as that. When he scored, we cheered like every fan did because it was a special goal. Whether it was for two points or nothing, it was a special goal. The bench just yipped and howled and they were over the bench. 

JS: Me and Harry [Malik] were invited to the Knicks game the next night. They showed the play and all the basketball fans went crazy. It's a move and a moment that transcends hockey. It's a moment that transcends sports. It's one of the great moments in sports.

The Rangers would overcome expectations that year and finish with 100 points in the regular season and clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 1997. Those that were a part of that 2005-06 team remember it fondly.

HL: Your first year is always special. There's so much to take in and obviously a big part of that team was [Jaromir] Jagr and Nylander. That line was very dangerous. Thinking back, I think that's what strikes me the most. You had an opportunity to play with one of the best players ever in Jagr. I'm grateful for that.

JS: I love that team. I look back on my 13 years in the NHL and that's probably in the top one or two. I'll never forget before the season started we traded for Steve Rucchin. We were driving to practice and he said 'we're a pretty good team,' and I agreed with him.  

Everyone kind of knew their role. We all just did what we had to do. We were castoffs and we came together and did something no one thought we would. I'm proud of it. I still to this day cheer for the Rangers. I love the team.

MM: We had a great bunch of guys. Maybe not on paper. Of course we had Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander, but on the other hand we had a lot of young guys. Hard working guys. Maybe we weren't strong on paper but inside the locker room, all of us pulled together. We fought every night. 

TR: We were just very close-knit. My adage has always been try and make the rink a destination and a place where people want to come. We just had a great synergy. We had a real good group of guys in there that really cared about each other and really wanted to do something special because we were picked to do quite poorly.

We had a good team. We had good players, good chemistry. We played the game right and we had fantastic goaltending. It was just one of those special years. At the end of the day, as a group, all of us had something to do with the Rangers kind of rounding the corner and chasing the Stanley Cup dream they still do today.

This moment has gone down in Garden history and is SAP's Garden 366 Moment for this date.

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