The New York Rangers are facing elimination on Sunday night, which means we can expect Henrik Lundqvist to play out of his mind.
With his 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 5, Lundqvist moved to 12-3 since 2012 when facing elimination in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s surrendered 21 goals in those 15 games. In his last seven elimination games, he has a .976 save percentage – that includes the three goals he gave up in Game 5 to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.
It’s a hell of a foundation on which to build a comeback, and the Rangers overall play with more poise with their backs straight up against the wall that they sometimes do in other situations.
Lundqvist provides a steady hand; it’s a given he won’t be a liability, it’s a given that he’ll do what it takes to put the Rangers in a position to win the game. Sort of like he does in their other games, but for whatever reason the Rangers can’t seem to give him better goal support unless their season’s on the brink.
“I really don’t know,” center Derek Stepan via Rangers Rants. “It says a lot about the guys in our room. We have a group of guys that work so hard to make sure that we put our best effort out and make sure we compete for 60 minutes. When the season is on the line, maybe that level goes up a little bit more.”
The Rangers have won nine straight games at Madison Square Garden in which they could be eliminated. But to get there, they have to capture Game 6 in D.C.
Lundqvist believes the pressure has shifted to the Capitals, despite having two cracks at eliminating the Rangers.
“Being in their shoes, we’ve been there. Going home now, there’s a lot of pressure for them. I know for sure they don’t want to come back here for another game,” he said. “So we try to use that to our advantage and go out and try to play our best game of the series, put a lot of pressure on them and try to come back here and play in front of our fans.”
Part of that pressure: Seeing if the Capitals’ killer instinct from Game 7 against the Islanders can reappear in Game 6 against another New York team.
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