At the end of a day where goaltending was the No. 1 storyline, Michel Therrien decided to stick with the narrative.
“The reason we lost the game was [Henrik] Lundqvist,” Therrien said following Monday’s 3-1 loss in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, per NHL.com. “Lundqvist was phenomenal. Phenomenal. Stole the game.”
Lundqvist was brilliant tonight, stopping 40 of 41 shots for a .975 save percentage. It was the Swedish netminder’s first 40-save effort of this postseason and the fourth time in the last five games he’s held the opponent to just a single goal.
Fourth time Lundqvist has made at least 40 saves in a playoff game. But the first time he’s done it without overtime.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) May 20, 2014
What’s more, Lundqvist is now riding a five-game winning streak and over that stretch, has stopped 162 of 168 shots faced — so while Therrien is right in saying Lundqvist was phenomenal on Monday, it really goes beyond that. The 32-year-old has the look of a man on a mission; a man determined to get to the first-ever Stanley Cup Final of his illustrious career and knowing that, with Boston and Pittsburgh out of the picture and Carey Price no longer an option for Montreal, this postseason by far his best shot at getting there.
“My goal is to leave it all out here,” Lundqvist said. “I want to inspire teammates.”
Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Montreal can get after King Henrik. Coming into Game 2, there was much talk about the Habs exacting a measure of revenge for Chris Kreider’s series-ending collision with Carey Price but, outside of an early first-period skirmish with Brendan Gallagher, Lundqvist’s kitchen wasn’t exactly cluttered and, even if it was, there’s no guaranteeing the strategy would work. Following the loss, Montreal sounded like a team content with its effort level and the number of scoring chances put on goal, only to be thwarted by No. 30 time and time again.
“I don’t know if we can focus on what he’s giving us,” P.K. Subban said. “We’re getting pucks to the net, we’re just not getting the bounces right now. We just have to stick with it, we’re going to get the bounces at some point and the puck’s going to go in for us.”
That’s what the Habs will keep telling themselves, anyway.