EDMONTON, Alberta — A day after celebrating his 36th birthday with his second consecutive 50-save performance and his second consecutive win, Henrik Lundqvist was scheduled for a well-earned night off Saturday in Edmonton when the Rangers closed out their trip to Western Canada against the Oilers. Alexandar Georgiev started in net.
Lundqvist had done most of the heavy lifting in the Rangers’ 3-1 win Friday over the Flames in Calgary, not only in terms of the volume of saves he made, but in making one save in particular: a diving effort where he stuck out his stick arm — sans stick — to get in the way of a shot by Mikael Backlund 42 seconds into the second period with the game tied 1-1. Fourteen seconds after Lundqvist made that save, Pavel Buchnevich scored to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.
“It was definitely a turning point in the game,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “He makes that save and we come right back and we score. So we got great goaltending [Friday] and got a win out of it.’’
Lundqvist, who admitted after the game he took pride in that particular save, did pay a price for it. The puck hit him on the inside of his forearm, where is no padding, and it stung quite a bit. He needed to go to the bench and get a cooling spray from Athletic Trainer Jim Ramsay afterward. But it was worth it, the goaltender said.
“The worst is when you make the save and it goes in — or, it’s not a save, but it gets over (the goal line) and it hits your hand, and it’s hurting,’’ Lundqvist said. “But now (that save) made the difference, so you’ll take the pain then.’’
Spooner’s faceoff shot
Ryan Spooner had his first goal as a Ranger and an another assist — his sixth in three games with the team — in the Calgary game. His assist came when he stunned the Flames by shooting directly from the left circle faceoff. Calgary goalie Jon Gillies stopped the puck, but Kevin Hayes jammed in the rebound for the first goal of the game.
Spooner said shooting on the faceoff is an option when the opposing faceoff man (Sean Monahan) was lefthanded, attempting to pull the puck back toward the middle and toward his own net.
“I mean, if he’s pulling on a backhand to the net, I usually try to shoot it,’’ Spooner said. “I haven’t scored on it yet, but that was the first time I’ve gotten an assist on it.’’
Vigneault coached his 1,200th NHL game, becoming the 16th coach to do so. Asked before Saturday’s game whether he could appreciate the milestone, he said he could not and it will have to wait until after the fact. “Right now, it’s all about one game, and tonight it’s about Edmonton,’’ he said . . . David Desharnais was back in the lineup after being scratched against Calgary. Peter Holland, who replaced Desharnais against Calgary, was back out.