PHILADELPHIA — You could tell Henrik Lundqvist was on his game Saturday.
With the Rangers desperate for points, he made 34 saves through the end of overtime. Then it was up to him to go a step further to secure two points.
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Lundqvist had to face three of the Flyers’ most dangerous weapons in the shootout: rookie Shayne Gostisbehere, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. He denied all three attempts and Mats Zuccarello scored against Steve Mason, giving the Rangers a 3-2 win.
Said Zuccarello, “I [didn’t play well] the whole game, so it was nice to help.”
The Rangers, behind Lundqvist’s outstanding performance, played a gritty, greasy, emotional game to snap the Flyers’ winning streak at four games. It sent them to Washington, where they will play late Sunday afternoon, on a high note.
They had at least 30 shots on goal, 30 hits and 30 blocks in the same game for the first time since the league began tracking real-time stats in 1997-98.
The Rangers (24-15-5 overall, 8-10-3 on the road), who were unable to hold on to a one-goal lead in the third period in the 3-1 loss to the Islanders on Thursday night, allowed a tying power-play goal by Wayne Simmonds midway through the third period Saturday to tie it at 2-2.
“We didn’t let it bother us,” Dan Girardi said. “We just tried to keep going and Hank made a couple of nice saves in the shootout. We just kept battling all game, just taking bodies and blocking shots. We just kept plugging away.”
Lundqvist became the first goaltender in NHL history to post at least 20 wins in each of his first 11 seasons and set a Rangers record for the most 20-win seasons in franchise history. He and Mike Richter were tied with 10.
“I take a lot of pride in my numbers,” Lundqvist said. “I work hard and want to make the most of my career and help this team win games. But I’ve been lucky. I’ve been part of so many great teams with great players.”
Lundqvist seems to have regained his form. He played well in the 2-1 win over Boston on Monday, allowed only two goals against the Islanders on Thursday and shut the door Saturday when it counted.
“Technically, I feel like I’m playing my game in the last four or five,” he said, “and then mentally, you regain confidence when you win, for sure, but you just feel like you’re doing the right things. It got away from me for a stretch. I thought I was challenging a little too much, but today, I thought I was standing still a lot and just waiting for the shooter.”
With the score tied at 1 on goals by the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn and the Rangers’ J.T. Miller (a power-play tally that ended the Rangers’ slide at 0-for-19), Chris Kreider raced down the middle to redirect Rick Nash’s backhand pass from the right wall past Mason at 4:49 of the second period for a 2-1 lead. It was Kreider’s first goal since Dec. 20, and the relief was evident in his celebration.
But the Flyers outshot the Rangers 11-4 in the second, in part because of two power plays.
“As a goalie, it’s your job to give them confidence,” said Lundqvist, who was making his 12th straight start. “If it’s going to be a tight game, you have to come up with the saves at the right time, and if you don’t, it’s a tougher game for everyone.”