OTTAWA — For Henrik Lundqvist, the numbers aren’t pretty: 11 goals allowed in the last two overtime games at Canadian Tire Centre, an arena about 15 miles west of downtown Ottawa, not far from a new outlet mall and creeks overflowing their banks after a week of drenching rain.
The landscape is nothing like Madison Square Garden, nestled and buzzing amid the lights of Manhattan, where Lundqvist will have to make a stand Tuesday night or begin to think about heading home to Sweden this summer.
“We have no choice,” Lundqvist said Saturday after a second straight overtime loss in this building, which has been harsh to the Rangers. They have lost three playoff games and four straight regular-season games here.
“It’s disappointing, frustrating,” said Lundqvist, who entered Saturday’s game with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in 10 playoff games. “We just have to go home and regroup. Obviously it stings, to battle back the way we did, and . . . ”
The 35-year-old netminder again was not at his steadiest in this environment, although the defensive structure provided by his teammates was not the same as in the two wins at the Garden: fewer blocked shots, an inability to clear pucks out of danger and some bad reads against a desperate team.
On Saturday, Lundqvist’s best period was the first as the Senators, down 2-0 early, caused chaos with the Rangers’ penalty kill and just missed on two power plays. His fumble with the puck behind the net led to Mark Stone’s goal, but he finished the period with 14 saves.
The lightning strike came in a 33-second span in the second period as the Senators took a 3-2 lead. Mike Hoffman one-timed a pretty pass from the right circle at 8:17, a play on which Lundqvist had no chance, but Tom Pyatt’s tip from between the circles slid under him.
With traffic in front of Lundqvist, Derick Brassard’s shot caromed twice off Rangers and evaded the goalie’s desperate reach with 1:26 to go in regulation. Then Kyle Turris’ rebound heartbreaker went through his legs in overtime.
“I read high shot, it changed,” Lundqvist said. “The goals were scored in front. That’s what’s going to happen. You have to get the sticks, get the bodies, and if you don’t get the bounces there, it’s going to be tough. We have to do a better job and I have to find a way to make the saves.”
He allowed only two goals in the previous two games at the Garden and will need a similar performance in Game 6 if the Rangers are to bring the series back to this rink, which has been unkind.