Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.
BOSTON - The numbers say Henrik Lundqvist isn't getting it done in overtime in the playoffs.
The games themselves say otherwise. Lundqvist is sporting a pretty ugly 3-11 career playoff overtime record now after the 3-2 loss to the Bruins in Game 1 last night, and even he can't explain it or pretend to be unaffected by it.
"I have to be careful what I say here," said Lundqvist, who has lost three of four games this postseason in overtime. "Am I playing bad in overtime? No. Am I frustrated? Yes."
That bad OT record is about the only thing Lundqvist has going wrong for him. He made 15 saves in the overtime period before Brad Marchand converted a two-on-one feed as he charged the net. Some of those saves, especially during the Bruins' early OT power play, were ridiculous, including a pad stop on Zdeno Chara and a shoulder stop on Jaromir Jagr.
The matchups in this series will be between the elite players on either side, like Chara hopping the boards every time Rick Nash does. But the real matchup may just be the Bruins vs. Lundqvist.
It's advantage Bruins, but they cannot possibly believe they have anything more than a temporary edge. Lundqvist made 45 saves in Game 1, even as he fought a few pucks and allowed a softie to Chara in the second period to snap a shutout streak at 152:23. He didn't get enough of Torey Krug's open look in the third to keep it from squirting under his arm.
Lundqvist had to suffer through a pair of OT defeats in the opening-round series against the Caps, sandwiched around two Rangers wins in which Lundqvist allowed three goals; he gave up three or more 14 times in the regular season and the Rangers won just four of them, to show how rare that is.
And after Mike Ribeiro jammed home the Game 5 winner in OT to put the Caps within a win of capturing the series, Lundqvist shut the door.
His Games 6 and 7 were just about perfect, prompting Alex Ovechkin to declare only one Ranger had eliminated the Caps.
"You can see one guy beat us," Ovechkin said after Lundqvist's back-to-back shutouts sent the Rangers on to face the Bruins.
That one guy was mad as heck after Game 1 last night, amazingly at himself. Marchand got free after Chara, who was everywhere in Game 1, deflected Derick Brassard's pass off the rush, trapping Ryan McDonagh up ice. Mats Zuccarello couldn't contain Marchand, who deposited Patrice Bergeron's feed into the net.
"I've got to see the guy in the middle," Lundqvist said. "I was too focused on the puck, too locked in on the puck. It's a technical thing and it happens fast . . . I've got to make the save."
This is why John Tortorella never has to worry about his goaltender, regardless of the previous game's outcome. It's also why the Bruins can't be thinking they have Lundqvist down in this matchup.
The Caps had a couple of OT wins over Lundqvist, plus three games when they got three by him. They ended that series wondering if they would ever even get another goal on the Rangers, stymied in a tight Game 6 and left wondering what happened in Game 7.
Game 1 here was tight and physical. Not much will change in Game 2 and beyond. Neither side should think otherwise.
Lundqvist is mad about the winner and mad about his lousy OT record. That may not be the best thing for the Bruins. Just ask the Caps how it goes when you've got a couple OT wins over Lundqvist and end up going home.