WASHINGTON - Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist handled the obligatory postgame interviews as matter-of-factly as he turned away 33 of 35 Washington Capitals shots last night.
It wasn't until after his media session that the ramifications of the 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the nearly even-steven series seem to take full effect.
Lundqvist, sporting a blue baseball cap with his No. 30 on it, sunk forward at his locker, supporting his head on his fists.
"Frustrated," said Lundqvist, who received very little in terms of offensive support. "It was a tough couple hours."
Lundqvist did all he could to neutralize Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. But he couldn't be everywhere as Washington took a 3-2 series lead.
Lundqvist, who turned back nine shots by Ovechkin, including four in overtime, couldn't stop Mike Ribeiro from tucking home a deflection 9:24 into OT as the Capitals held serve at Verizon Center.
"It's just a bounce here or there," said Lundqvist, who made 26 saves in regulation, saving some of his best for Ovechkin, the NHL's leading scorer. "It's been that way in the series. We have to continue to be positive."
Lundquist has faced elimination games before but he says he's not thinking about Sunday's Game 6 in that context.
"You don't think about the past," he said. "You don't think about what's going on about you, win or lose. You focus on the game. Hopefully, we have a good one."
Before his winning goal, Ribeiro already had played a huge role, becoming embroiled in a second-period tangle with Rangers center Brian Boyle.
And few Rangers were more involved in the outcome of Game 5 than Boyle. Fifty-three seconds into the game, Boyle scored to give the Rangers the jump.
But it was a span of less than 20 seconds late in the second period that ultimately sent the game to overtime of what has transformed into a low-scoring series that any one slip-up might ultimately decide.
Boyle had come up big again 7:30 into the second period, aiding Lundqvist by blocking a Ribeiro shot in front of the net. But Boyle, still on his knees, also got called for slashing Ribeiro, leading to Washington's first power play of the night.
"It's a dumb penalty and you don't kill those off," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "That's the way it happens in our game. That guy's playing real well for us, but it's a dumb penalty."