NEW YORK—This milestone wouldn’t come easy for Henrik Lundqvist.
Twice in the third period the Los Angeles Kings found ways to tie the game against the Rangers All-Star goalie in the third period, preventing the Rangers from winning the game in regulation.
In the shootout, Lundqvist allowed a goal on the second shot and needed to stop the third to secure a Rangers victory.
But just like he’s done so many times, Lundqvist made the stop on the third shot to give the Rangers the 4-3 shootout win—and also give him win No. 200 of his career.
Lundqvist is now fourth on the Rangers all-time list, tied with John Vanbiesbouck. In his sixth season, Lundqvist improved to 23-18-4 on the year an edging closer to his sixth straight 30-win season.
“It’s a great feeling to reach that. It’s a milestone for me,” Lundqvist said. “I’m happy I’ve been able to be here for almost six years now. I just hope I get the opportunity to stay here and get another 200. I’m very happy to reach that, it’s a sign I’ve been part of good teams.”
Including Thursday night’s game, it’s been a rough stretch of late for the Rangers franchise goalie. In his last eight games, Lundqvist is 3-5 and has allowed 25 goals. In the eight games prior to this streak, Lundqvist had just allowed 11 goals
While he stopped 25 of 28 shots, he failed to make some key saves late in the game that could’ve sealed a Rangers win in regulation and made win No. 200 much easier for him.
After the Rangers took a 2-1 lead at the 6:10 mark of the third, Lundqvist allowed a goal just one minute and 40 seconds later. The Rangers later took a 3-2 lead with 3:08 left, but Lundqvist yielded the equalizer just 47 seconds after, a shot that deflected off the back of his facemask into the back of net.
“I felt pretty good today. The last few goals were tough bounces,” Lundqvist said. “I don’t really know what to say. I felt like my positioning was there and I saw the puck pretty well. They were doing a good job getting people and bodies in front of me the whole night.”
The game eventually headed to overtime and the shootout, but that was no time to panic for Lundqvist. The shootout is when the goalie is at his best, as he now owns a 34-23 record and has stopped 168 of 221 shots in overtime (70 percent).
Lundqvist stopped the first shot, allowed the second goal, but stonewalled Anze Kopitar with the game on the line to pick up two crucial points for the Rangers. New York scored on its first two shots in the shootout.
“He’s the backbone of this team and if we are going to have success he is going to have to be good and he was tonight,” Rangers forward Ryan Callahan said. “He’s done it for a couple years now and we have all the confidence in the world in Hank.”
After the game, Lundqvist was more pleased with his teammates and the two points for the win than his personal milestone. He praised his team’s resiliency to win this game after he allowed the two late goals, saying his teammates never gave up.
His coach liked the goalie’s effort and hopes there more wins to come for Lundqvist, who is still over 400 wins behind Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
“He came up big. It was tough spot for him because how the goal goes in, I don’t blame Hank, it was one of those fluky goals and he’s had a number of those of late and tonight was good for him as far as getting an opportunity to make the big save to win a hockey game,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “He needs to win more. He’s won 200, that’s great, I’m happy for him, but he needs to be our guy as we go through this stretch here with 23 games left.”