When he skated onto the ice Thursday night, Henrik Lundqvist, who has starred in the Olympics and World Championships, heard the earsplitting noise at Madison Square Garden and knew he was going to have a strong night.
"There was a little more edge to it and it was a great feeling being out there," said Lundqvist, who received his fourth nomination for the Vezina Trophy on Wednesday and came into Game 7 of the series with the Senators with a 1.82 goals-against-average and a .942 save percentage. "I tried to go out there and see it as Game 89 instead of Game 7."
His math was on target, and so was his performance.
The difference between the two teams, Lundqvist said, "was not that big. We knew going into the series that it was going to be tough."
But the 30-year-old Swede, who has been the team's MVP since he arrived in 2005-06, stopped 26 of 27 shots, including nine in a frantic third period in which the Rangers were clinging to a 2-1 lead, and was a difference-maker.
"It was a tough final seven minutes," Marian Gaborik said. "Hank stood on his head. He made unbelievable saves there."
"He is one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best," Dan Girardi said. "He was just on top of his game tonight."
The Senators lauded Lundqvist's effort as well. "I thought we had some great opportunities and Lundqvist played really good for them," coach Paul MacLean said.
"They made it tough for me all series with traffic in front," Lundqvist said. "Their top line and power play were really good. You just try to be aware of their guys."
Lundqvist won a career- high 39 games in only 62 appearances, with Martin Biron playing in 20 games, which afforded Lundqvist some rest. Last season, because Biron was out with a broken clavicle, he played the last 21 regular-season games before facing the Capitals, and the Rangers lost the first-round series 4-1.
But Lundqvist and the Rangers have little time to relax. Practice is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday and Game 1 is Saturday.
"I'm going to try to enjoy this tonight, and tomorrow it's back to work," Lundqvist said. "It's going to be a different team, a new challenge."