Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Despite lack of shots, Hank stays focused
By Mike Mazzeo
Henrik Lundqvist didn’t see much rubber on Monday night.
When he did, though, the Rangers netminder was more than equal to the task.
Lundqvist stopped all 13 shots he faced to earn his eighth shutout of the season -- 43rd of his career -- as the Rangers blanked the Devils, 2-0, at the Garden.
The Rangers held a one-goal lead with 2:26 left when Lundqvist made his best save of the evening, gloving Ilya Kovalchuk’s wrister.
“Sooner or later, they’ll get one or two chances,” Lundqvist said. “So you just have to stay alert, especially when it’s a 1-0 game. All it takes is one mistake and it’s a tie game, so it’s not hard to stay focused. Maybe you’re a little off sometimes, but I try to push myself to stay focused. I think that’s the toughest part. When you stand for a long time not facing any shots, it’s definitely easier to get a shot here and there to feel the puck.”
Kovalchuk tried to use a Ranger defenseman as a screen, dragging the puck on his tape to create one. But Lundqivst guessed the Russian sniper was going upstairs, and he was right.
“I thought it was going wide, but it was a big save,” coach John Tortorella said.
Lundqvist earned his 30th win of the season, extending his NHL record to seven straight seasons of 30 wins to begin his career. He is 30-12-4 overall, including a 16-6-2 mark at home this season. In his last 12 games, Lundqvist is 10-2 with a 1.24 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and four shutouts. He has posted five shutouts in his last 14 games and has allowed one goal or less in 13 of his last 26 games.
In his career, Lundqvist is 22-6-5 with a 1.72 GAA, a .936 SV PCT and five shutouts when facing future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur.
“I remember my first year it was a big deal to reach 30 wins, and it’s my seventh straight year to reach it, obviously it means a lot to me,” Lundqvist said. “It means that things have been going well, but it also means that I play for a club that’s given me a chance to play a lot. But I’m happy that I’ve reached it again.”
Said Brad Richards: “We are used to that. That’s what he does. You can tell that in the third period, when they got one or two chances, Hank is going to stand tall. We did a great job defending for the most part [Monday night], but they’re still going to get that good chance, and he’s there to save it.”
• Carl Hagelin was awarded the “Broadway Hat” after scoring his 11th goal of the season and adding an assist. The rookie winger has six points in his last six games (three goals, three assists). Tortorella gave the quote of the night when asked about Hagelin.
“He blocked a shot and I thought he was dead,” Tortorella said.
• David Clarkson played 11:14 -- and saw 19 minutes in the penalty box. Brandon Dubinsky was upset about an elbow he took from Clarkson where Clarkson left his feet. Dubinsky later dropped the gloves with Clarkson, but took a shot at him saying Clarkson needs to fight players his size.
“It was a matter of time before somebody was going to fight him,” Dubinsky said. “He seems to always turn away the tougher guys, not taking anything away from myself, but he goes after other guys.”
• A Rangers spokesman said Brandon Prust was fine, even though it looked like the gritty winger hurt his shoulder in a fight with Eric Boulton.