Henrik Lundqvist wore the look of a stunned man, staring blankly as he sat at his locker.
The Rangers goaltender was nothing short of sensational in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night at the Garden. He stoned a pair of Boston Bruins breakaway chances in the first period and then used his glove to rob Gregory Campbell in the second and Tyler Seguin in the third.
But with 3:31 left, Lundqvist was the victim of an awful bounce that put the Rangers in a 3-0 series hole.
Campbell took a seemingly harmless wrist shot from the left-wing boards that shouldn’t have caused any problems. But the puck somehow deflected off the top of Lundqvist’s mask and popped up into the air.
At that point, Lundqvist had no idea where it was. The puck actually ended up bouncing on the goal line, but Daniel Paille swooped around the net and buried the rebound to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory and a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series.
Asked what he saw on the goal, Lundqvist replied, "That’s the problem, I didn’t see it. It hit me in the head and went straight up, and nobody saw it, and it just landed on his stick.
"At some point, you’re gonna need some puck luck to win games. It’s that close, and obviously you can’t see all the bounces, but from where I’m standing every game they’ve been getting the bounces on our guys, on their guys. I’m not gonna blame it all on lucky bounces, but you need it, simple as that, and today they got it again."
Lundqvist had allowed eight goals in the first two games of the series. Despite being hampered by a left shoulder injury, he made 32 saves on Tuesday night. And yet his team finds itself on the brink of playoff elimination.
"It’s really hard to swallow. It’s hard to believe," Lundqvist said. "I thought we played a pretty strong game, but we came up short again and it definitely hurts.
"We just have to regroup here. It’s not over. It’s gonna be a tough night and then you start over and you start focusing on the next one and take it one game a time. That’s all we can do, but this one really stings right now."
Coach John Tortorella was proud of the way Lundqvist played. Sure he surrendered five goals in Game 2, but the Rangers have notched just five all series -- none on the power play.
"[Henrik] was outstanding," Tortorella said. "He was under a lot of pressure and made a lot of great saves."
Added winger Rick Nash: "He’s been great every single game. He’s the backbone of this team. I can’t say enough about him."