The New York Rangers were one win away from back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. However, there will be no return trip this year.
They lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending a post-season that saw Henrik Lundqvist often as the backbone, their best player, on many nights. In the first round against Pittsburgh, each of the five games were decided by one goal, including three in a row by 2-1 decisions.
Against Washington, the Rangers managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. Again, every game decided by one goal.
It can be argued New York was flirting with an earlier exit, had it not been for timely goals, but mostly for the play of Lundqvist, who posted a .928 save percentage in the playoffs. The only goalie to play 10 or more games in this post-season and post a better save percentage was Braden Holtby.
Despite giving up two third-period goals — an Alex Killorn backhander through traffic and an Ondrej Palat wrist shot off the rush — Lundqvist was sharp. His collection of saves included a great glove stop on Jason Garrison, and a quick pad save on Tyler Johnson to keep it scoreless in the second period.
“I think we all expected him to do that; he’s a great goaltender,” said Johnson of Lundqvist to NHL.com.
“There’s no denying that. We knew we would just have to keep getting opportunities and we knew he was going to save a lot of those, so it was just a matter of time for us to get try to get more opportunities than he could save. Luckily, we were able to.”