Henrik Lundqvist: Mr. Game 7
Henrik Lundqvist lives for Game 7s. With it all on the line, there's no one better. And that's why he's the King.
Lundqvist did it again Wednesday night, backstopping his Rangers to their third straight elimination-game win over the Washington Capitals, as New York erased a 3-1 series deficit, coming out on top 2-1 in overtime in Game 7.
With the win, Lundqvist cemented his legacy as one of hockey's premier goalies in the playoffs. He stopped 35 of 36 shots, winning his record sixth straight Game 7 (in which he has a sparking .973 save percentage), giving him seven Game 7 wins in his career, tying him with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy for the most in NHL history.
Here's where Lundqvist has those legends beat: His 0.97 goals-against average in Game 7s - with a minimum of three Game 7s played - is the lowest in league history.
Backs against the wall, there is no one better than King Henrik, and he allows less than a goal per game. It's almost unfair.
Here's where it gets weird: Game 7s on May 13 is when Lundqvist shines brightest.
Three years running, 35 saves in a Game 7-winning performance on May 13. You can't make that stuff up.
Lundqvist talked Wednesday night after Game 7 about his mindset in the blue paint in the most mentally-challenging games:
It's hard to describe. You think a lot throughout the game. You try not to be ahead of yourself or anything like that, but it's hard not to. You know everything is on the line. The last five minutes of the third period and overtime you know one mistake and it's all over or you are moving on.
It's such a great feeling when you see the puck go in. This series was fun. Washington played really well and (Braden) Holtby was outstanding. For me personally it was a great challenge to try to match that and stay in the game. It's fun when you feel like you are doing your part and then there are moments where the teams steps up and scores the big goals.
Down 3-1 in the series, Lundqvist said he and his teammates focused on the good:
I think it's important that you stay focused on the positives.
They won three out of the four, but they were close games.
That's important to know that you don't need to change much to win a game. If you feel like you have to do so much more, you might be in a tough spot. But we knew that we were very close. There were a couple of things: The puck might need to bounce our way a little bit more and (we needed) to try to solve Holtby and we did.
It starts with confidence and that you can do it and take one game at a time and we did a great job.
One Game 7 at a time. It's that easy.
The Devil, The King, call him whatever you like, including one of the greatest goalies the Stanley Cup playoffs have ever seen.
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