After about 16 minutes of play at Yankee Stadium, when Travis Zajac's backhander put the Devils up by two goals, Henrik Lundqvist was deeply concerned.
"I'm not going to lie . . . I had a bad feeling, and my first thought was, 'Am I going to be able to finish this game?' '' he said after the Rangers scored the next six goals for a 7-3 win. "And then we kind of just regrouped and you tell yourself, 'I need to stop the next shot, that's it.' "
Contributing to his rocky beginning -- three goals on nine shots -- was a sudden wake-up call after the game's start was delayed by ice conditions and glare.
"They told us warmups would probably be 2 or 2:30, so I went to sleep," he said. "They woke me and told me there was a warmup in 30 minutes. I was half-asleep. Mentally I was somewhere else [in the first] . . . I was not really in the right place. I was fighting it a little bit."
But things improved after that. "I felt like I settled down, and the confidence started coming back," he said. "I'm just happy we recovered."
After the Rangers took a 5-3 lead late in the second period, Lundqvist began to savor the surroundings. "You have moments where you take it all in," he said. "Especially in the second half, when we built that lead, you can really enjoy everything around the rink, maybe listen to the crowd a little more."
Stepan's finishing touch
When Derek Stepan was awarded a penalty shot at 10:06 of the third period, he took some time skating at the other end.
"I was trying to bring the butterflies down a little bit," he said.
Then Stepan executed his plan. He slowed and whistled a shot over Cory Schneider's right shoulder for his 10th goal of the season.
"I had one thing in my head," he said, "and I wasn't taking it out of my head."