COLUMBUS, Ohio — After earning his 400th win Saturday, Henrik Lundqvist added an item to his growing collection: the puck from the final minute of the game.
He isn’t much of a saver, though. “I have some pucks after shutouts, some masks and sticks,” he said before Monday night’s game against Columbus. “I usually keep one of the two sticks I use in a game and auction them off [for charity].”
Lundqvist backed up Antti Raanta on Monday night at Nationwide Arena. When asked if he was looking forward to a break after starting 16 of 17 games, he initially replied: “Yes and no. You know how I am.” Then he acknowledged: “It was a couple pretty intense weeks, with a lot of action. It’ll be nice to get a night off.”
Lundqvist, who will be 35 next month, was asked if he wants to play as long as former teammate Jaromir Jagr, who is 44. He just laughed.
“He has so much passion for the game and works so hard to keep himself in great shape,” he said. “And to be able to do that mentally is amazing. He’s one of the best players ever.”
He said of his own situation: “Right now, I love the game, everything about it, my teammates, the travel. I just love to compete.” So there will be more pucks, masks and sticks tucked away. His contract ends in 2020-21.
In the short term, Alain Vig neault said he will deploy Lundqvist as often as needed but would like to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He already has played in 40 games.
When Lundqvist was struggling, Vig neault said, “and Hank was talking about finding a rhythm, he had almost the same number of games, one or two different than what we were usually giving him before, so there wasn’t a drastic amount of games or time played. Lately, he’s obviously found his game. He’s adjusted and we’ve adjusted . . . In an ideal world, if I would be able to keep Hank under 60 [games], I would do that.”