Henrik Lundqvist spent most of the first period Tuesday night minding his own business in his goal crease, watching like everyone else in Madison Square Garden as his Rangers teammates spent most of the time on the other end of the ice.
By the time the period was over, the Rangers had a two-goal lead and a 15-5 advantage in shots on goal en route to a 4-1 victory in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Senators.
Even that doesn’t fully illustrate the level of domination, which was a good thing for a team trailing the playoff series two games to none. But that kind of lopsided action sometimes can be a bad thing for a goaltender who loses focus amid the boredom.
Lundqvist acknowledged that can be an issue, but not so much during the Stanley Cup playoffs, and not coming off a crushing, 6-5 defeat in double overtime in Game 2 in which the veteran goaltender was not at his sharpest.
“Obviously you know the importance of the game, so you just need to remind yourself that every play matters, that every save matters, every blocked shot,” he said when it was over. “Everything has a meaning in a game like this, so that helps you stay on top of things and on your toes when you do get a chance.
“The way we started the game, the way we played in the first period was great to see. We put what happened in Ottawa behind us, but we did bring the things we were doing well up there to home ice and we got it done.”
Lundqvist finished with 26 saves and earned his 60th playoff victory, making him the 15th goaltender in NHL history with at least 60, tied with Turk Broda on the all-time list.
It was not as if Lundqvist had no work to do at all, but he appeared to look less exhausted — and less sweaty — than usual as he stood and spoke to reporters at his locker.
“It was a big game for us, no question,” he said. “The day after we went home from Ottawa it was a tough day, I think. We felt like we played well enough to get at least one win . . . We came out in the first period and we set the tone and there’s no question I think we were the better team tonight.
“We played with the speed, and the emotion, and the determination and we got it done. It was good to see.”