RALEIGH, N.C. — With his team playing the second game of a back-to-back set, Rangers coach David Quinn was asked Thursday about the keys to winning.
“You need everybody going,’’ he said. “We’re going to need four lines going, we’re gonna need six defensemen involved, and everybody’s going to do their part tonight.’’
He forgot to mention the goaltender.
Henrik Lundqvist, who had played Wednesday at home against Detroit, was back in goal against the Hurricanes. He turned in a vintage performance, making 45 saves to carry the Rangers to a 4-2 victory and a sweep of the two games. It was the fourth victory in five games for the Rangers (7-6-1).
“I mean, that was a Hall of Fame, MVP, whatever you want to call it performance tonight,’’ Rangers forward Ryan Strome said of Lundqvist’s effort. “It’s special to see. I mean, unfortunately, we put him in that situation, but, you know, once in a while, a goalie of his caliber can win you a game like that.’’
The Rangers were outshot 47-19 but won because they got timely goals from Artemi Panarin, Brendan Lemieux, Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox (empty-netter).
“It was a fun win,’’ a smiling Lundqvist said. “On the road . . . When it mattered, we made some big plays. Big plays at the right time. I’m pretty tired right now.’’
Lundqvist has put up stellar numbers when he plays back-to-backs in his career. He has played both ends of a back-to-back 85 times and posted a 54-23-8 record with a 2.12 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage and nine shutouts.
Quinn said he’d planned all along that after Alexandar Georgiev started three straight games, Lundqvist would play Wednesday against Detroit, and that if he played well, he would play again Thursday.
“He’s played seven games this year, so I wasn’t worried about him being tired,’’ Quinn said. “And I want him to get into a rhythm.’’
Of course, Lundqvist lobbied the coach a little, too.
“I talked to Quinnie after the game [Wednesday], kind of pushing him to let me play one more game,’’ Lundqvist said. “I’ve been sitting a lot. And you know, when you play more games, you get into a flow where it almost feels like an extension of the last game. You don’t have to work hard to get in the right place mentally; you’re just out there.
“So I feel pretty comfortable when it’s a back-to-back situation. I just rely on what I did last night and try to carry over on all the good things I did. Obviously, I was tested a lot in the first, but it was a fun test, you know?’’
Lundqvist stopped 80 of 83 shots in the two starts, including all 22 shots he saw in the first period Thursday, when the Rangers were outshot 22-6.
Two penalties, against Lias Andersson for roughing and Marc Staal for tripping, put the Rangers on the defensive for most of the period. But Panarin banged in Strome’s feed from behind the goal to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, and after the Hurricanes tied it at 14:32 of the second on Dougie Hamilton’s deflection goal, Lemieux gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 18:04 with a power-play goal, deflecting in Tony DeAngelo’s shot from the point. It was Lemieux’s first goal of the season.
Buchnevich’s goal made it 3-1 at 1:15 of the third, but Sebastian Aho got credit for a goal for Carolina when his shot deflected off Andersson’s stick in front and got by Lundqvist at 15:58.
Fox scored into the empty Hurricanes net with 1:25 remaining to secure the victory.