NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have their backs against the wall again.
Just don’t expect Henrik Lundqvist & Co. to go quietly.
“There’s no other way for us right now than to really leave everything out there,” Lundqvist said after the Rangers were pushed to the brink of elimination following a 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
“We don’t want any regrets,” Lundqvist continued. "We know we can beat them down there [in Tampa], but they’re going to come hard and they’re playing well in their own building, so we have to come out, prepare the right way and really play on our toes.”
The Rangers trail in the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 is Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
“I’m not really sure what to expect down in Tampa,” Lundqvist said. “But we have to prepare for the next one. It’s not like we haven’t been there before.”
They certainly have. And in his past 17 starts in which the Rangers have faced elimination, Lundqvist is 14-3 with a 1.39 goals-against average and a .956 save percentage.
“We just have to go out there and leave everything out there and see how far it takes us,” said the 33-year-old veteran, who made 20 saves in defeat. “It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
After surrendering a combined 12 goals in Games 2 and 3, Lundqvist has surrendered just three goals combined in Games 4 and 5. On Sunday night, however, he needed to be perfect to give his team a chance to win. The Rangers went 0-for-4 on the power play and failed to generate many quality chances.
Valtteri Filppula beat Lundqvist high on the stick side from the slot to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the second period. And the New York goaltender had no chance on Steven Stamkos' tap-in tally, the result of a pretty tic-tac-toe passing combination, five minutes later.
“It’s a big part of their game, how they move the puck,” Lundqvist said. “It’s hard to get set and he took a good shot, post and in. I couldn’t really reach it there. On the power play, that’s a big goal late in the second period and they moved the puck really well there. They made it tough for us to just be in good position and that’s what they do. We played well. We had good speed. We were smart with out decisions. It was just hard to create chances. They defended really well.”
Lundqvist and the Rangers are in an unenviable position right now. But they’ve been able to overcome it before.