Henrik Lundqvist is looking every bit like the reigning Vezina
Trophy winner, and that may eventually be enough to get the New
York Rangers back to the playoffs.
For now, they’ll settle with him continuing his dominance of the
With the Rangers trying to create a cushion for the final
playoff position, Lundqvist is expected to remain in net in an
effort to beat the Flyers for the 12th time in 13 attempts Tuesday
night in Philadelphia.
Lundqvist won last season’s Vezina by going 39-18-5 with a 1.97
goals-against average and eight shutouts. He’s among the NHL
leaders this season with 19 wins and a 2.06 GAA, and his play in
April could be the start of him making a case at another
He’s started all seven games this month, going 5-1-1 with a 1.53
GAA and one shutout, helping the Rangers (21-16-4) move into the
eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
They’re one point behind the seventh-place New York Islanders and
two back of Ottawa for sixth. However, they’re just two points
ahead of ninth-place Winnipeg with seven games to go – one more
than the Jets.
Lundqvist came up big again Saturday, making 29 saves while Dan
Girardi scored with 1:49 left in overtime to clinch a 1-0 road win
over the Islanders.
“He was not the goalie that we know as the season started, but
he has certainly been at the top of his game,” coach John
Tortorella said of Lundqvist, who lost five of his first eight
starts behind a 2.83 GAA. “There’s no coincidence that we’re 5-1-1
and he’s been really good.”
He’s certainly been good against the Flyers (18-21-3), winning
11 of his last 12 meetings with the Atlantic Division rival behind
a 1.66 GAA and two shutouts. That includes winning each of the past
three matchups this season while stopping 81 of 86 shots.
Lundqvist had 32 saves while Derek Stepan had four points and
Rick Nash three in a 5-2 win at Wells Fargo Center on March 26.
Stepan thrives against the Flyers, collecting 17 points in 16
games for his highest total against any opponent. The center has
notched nine of those points in seven visits to Philadelphia, and
he enters this one with nine in seven games this month.
Nash has four goals and one assist in the past two games versus
New York has won five of the last six games at Philadelphia.
The Flyers, who are seven points back of the Rangers in the
playoff race, are hoping Monday’s 7-3 win at Montreal can provide a
spark heading into the final six games. That matched their highest
scoring output of the season and snapped a four-game slide, during
which they were outscored 12-3.
“It has been a tough year for goals, especially the last few
games,” said left wing Scott Hartnell, who had a hat trick against
the Canadiens to give him seven goals on the season. “You never
Claude Giroux, who had three points Monday, has five goals and
11 assists in the past 13 games, but Philadelphia only has a 5-6-2
record to show for it.
The captain has 26 points in 27 career meetings with the
Rangers, getting 16 in 13 home games.
Jakub Voracek is tied with Giroux for the team lead with 42
points after also getting three against the Canadiens. The right
wing has scored four goals while setting up four others in the past
five games against New York, but is a minus-3 in that stretch.