It’s no secret that Henrik Lundqvist had his share of struggles this season. That led some people to believe that his days of being a franchise goalie might be over.
After all, he finished the season with a mediocre 2.74 goals-against-average and a .910 save percentage. There was even a stretch of games where Antti Raanta became the preferred option in the Rangers’ crease.
But on Wednesday night, Lundqvist silenced his critics with a solid performance in a 2-0 win over Montreal in Game 1 of their opening-round series.
“I’m aware of what people have been saying, but as a goalie you try and take the good from every situation, so obviously I focused on the last time we were here for the playoffs (2014 Eastern Conference Final),” Lundqvist said after Game 1, per the New York Post. “Sometimes when the pressure goes up, it makes it easier to have the right mindset.”
The Canadiens were the better team in the opening 20 minutes, but thanks to their goalie, the Rangers were able to go into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
New York still needs to find a way to win three more contests to advance to the next round, but they’ll have a good shot if Lundqvist keeps turning in clutch performances.
“For all the crap he’s taken this year, he’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever seen,” teammate Derek Stepan said. “When it comes to big moments and the biggest games, he is phenomenal. I know this meant a lot to him.”
Game 2 goes Friday night at the Bell Center in Montreal.