Henrik Lundqvist shows his human side in loss
It certainly wasn't Henrik Lundqvist's finest moment. The scoreboard read 3-0 for the Devils after just 9:49, and worse, on just five shots, the sort of percentage that Lundqvist never even sees in breakaway drills in practice.
The King saw only 16 shots in Game 5 Wednesday night but gave up four goals for the first time in 19 playoff games, not the sort of night he or his team were hoping for in such a pivotal moment.
"It's tough and a frustrating end to the game," Lundqvist said after the 5-3 loss. "I just didn't expect that to happen."
He was fairly blameless on Ryan Carter's winner with 4:24 left, guilty only of not catching sight of Carter cruising down the slot, unguarded, as the puck was in the corner. But Lundqvist definitely was not at his Vezina Trophy nominee best, despite a couple of bad bounces that the Devils converted.
"You want to come up with the saves," he said.
Lundqvist wasn't able to do that in the Devils' three-goal flurry. He couldn't control Mark Fayne's soft shot from the point that Stephen Gionta slid past Lundqvist on the rebound, though Gionta was all alone on the goaltender's doorstep.
The second goal hit Patrik Elias' skate, then both of Artem Anisimov's skates before trickling by Lundqvist. And Travis Zajac's goal off the rush was stoppable for someone of Lundqvist's stature, but caught him by surprise.
"I was right there for the first shot, especially the second one, but I was a little slow to react even though I was in a good position," Lundqvist said of Gionta's goal. "After that, it was all us."
Lundqvist has saved his team more times than any of them could count, even in this series, with his shutouts in Games 1 and 3 in which he made 21 and 36 saves, respectively.
But the last two losses have been uncharacteristic for the Rangers and for Lundqvist. He allowed 28 goals in the first 17 games of the playoffs; he's given up seven in the past two games. His goals-against average is still a gaudy 1.76, better than every postseason goaltender except the Kings' Jonathan Quick, but the Rangers are still on the verge of elimination and Lundqvist knows he and his team have to be better.
"We have to [take the positives out of the loss]," he said. "There's no other way around it."