Lundqvist, who missed the last two games due to an undisclosed injury, made 25 saves, but the Rangers were shut out for the third time this season in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “He didn’t have a lot of work to do, but when he did he was sharp.”
Lundqvist (2-5-0, 3.25 goals-against average) was glad to be back. He just wished the result would’ve been different. The Rangers (3-7-0), who rank last in the NHL in goals per game (1.5), have understandably had a tough time scoring with wingers Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin all out due to injury.
“It’s fun to play here again,” Lundqvist said. “I think we did a lot of good things. We just hoped for an early goal for us to get the energy and confidence and get the building going. It was kind of a tight game, but it was a disappointing loss.”
Lundqvist never had a chance on both Montreal goals.
Tomas Plekanec gave the Canadiens the lead 16:34 into the second period on the power play when he took a nifty back pass from Michael Bournival, moved in all alone and patiently backhanded the puck by Lundqvist’s outstretched left pad.
“It was the wrong player, wrong place there,” Lundqvist said of Plekanec, who leads Montreal with six goals. “He was very patient and I hoped for a shot. I kind of took the angle away and that’s why I was kind of late coming across, but he made a good move. I wish I got a better push there. He’s a really good player.”
Then, with just 2:51 remaining in the final period, Alex Galchenyuk cashed in on a 2-on-1. Lars Eller's pass deflected off Galchenyuk’s right skate and past Lundqvist. Lundqvist felt the goal should’ve been disallowed because he felt Galchenyuk used a distinct kicking motion to put the puck into the net, but the officials disagreed.
“If that’s not a kick, I don’t know what a kick is,” Lundqvist said. “Seriously, there needs to be some consistency with the calls. I think that’s my opinion. It’s just a frustrating goal there that kind of kills the whole game and it is what it is. It would be very interesting to hear their explanation for it just to know moving forward what the rule is.”
Lundqvist would like to play in Tuesday’s road game against the New York Islanders, but Vigneault would not disclose his starter.
“I’ve been resting, but we’ll leave it up to the coaches and we’ll see,” Lundqvist said.