- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- On Thursday night, The King was removed from his throne.
New York Rangers All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was pulled late in the second period after surrendering three goals on 12 shots in his team’s 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m upset for not playing better,” said Lundqvist, who fell to 21-8-5 all-time against the Devils, a team he’s dominated throughout his career. “I’m not upset for getting pulled. I have to play better.”
Lundqvist, who has allowed seven goals in two games since the All-Star break, gave up a goal to Ilya Kovalchuk just 64 seconds in. And his evening didn’t get any better from there.
His glove hand was stung by a Kovalchuk point shot shortly after. And then he ended up surrendering a pair of soft goals to Dainus Zubrus and Brian Rolston in the second, which prompted head coach John Tortorella to lift him in favor of backup Martin Biron with 4:56 remaining in the middle frame and the Rangers trailing 3-0.
“It’s a big game,” said Lundqvist. “So it’s disappointing not coming up with a better performance tonight.”
“Our goaltending hasn’t been there, certainly not at the level it needs to be this time of year,” Tortorella said. “These three games we had chances to win. I’m not calling out Hank, but I need to be honest. Our goaltending hasn’t been good enough. And we’ve played some good hockey.
“I think we probably get five out of the six points if it’s just decent goaltending.”
Here’s what Lundqvist had to say about each goal that was scored against him:
First, Kovalchuk’s goal that put the Devils up 1-0 1 minute, 4 seconds into the first period: a snapper from the right circle that beat Lundqvist upstairs.
“I mean it’s kinda a similar shot that Cally [Ryan Callahan] took. He’s a good shooter, but if I’m on top of my game, I stop that one.”
Second, Zubrus’ goal that put the Devils ahead 2-0 at 8:01 of the second period: a blast from the top of the right circle that Lundqvist thought he had in the butterfly, but the puck ended up trickling under his right arm and over the goal line.
“I thought I had it, but I could tell by the crowd’s reaction it was loose. So I turned around and G [Dan Girardi] tried to clear the puck and it hit me and went in. A lot of weird goals and some bad goals. Like I said these next couple days I’m gonna work really hard and get my game going.”
Finally, Rolston’s goal at 16:25 of the second period, which led to Lundqvist getting the hook: a one-timer from the right point that got by the 28-year-old on his stick side.
“I think I just I thought I had it under control and it hit my stick and went into the net. I felt like I was gonna make a save with my blocker. Instead, it hit my stick and then the shaft and went in. Sometimes you just catch a lot of bad lucks, and get a couple bad bounces, but in the end I just have to be better.”
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