Henrik Lundqvist continued his climb up the all-time rankings for goaltender wins by earning his 445th Thursday night, moving into a tie for sixth place with Terry Sawchuk.
“It’s an honor to be up there,’’ Lundqvist said after the Rangers’ 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden. “[I'm] passing a lot of names that meant a lot to me growing up. It’s a very cool feeling — I keep saying that every time you reach a milestone. I’ve been part of so many great teams here in New York, and they’ve given me an opportunity to play a lot of games. So I’m proud.’’
Lundqvist seems to be back on his game after going through a little dip right after the calendar flipped to 2019. He got pulled from his first two starts of the new year and sat out four of six, including two in a row last weekend, before playing in each of the last two games.
How much Lundqvist plays the rest of the way is going to be a question if the Rangers fall out of the chase for a playoff spot. Rookie Alexander Georgiev, his backup, has played well and the Rangers will want to get him some playing time.
“We’ll make time for Georgie, too, but we want to win hockey games,’’ coach David Quinn said. “Georgie’s played 12 or 13 games already [actually 13 starts and 16 appearances], so he’s probably on a pace for 20 to 25, which puts Hank in the 60-game area.”
Smith can’t crack lineup
With center Kevin Hayes shut down until after the All-Star break and defenseman Neal Pionk also out, the only healthy extra player on the roster is defenseman Brendan Smith. Quinn opted to dress the same lineup he used Tuesday, so Smith was the lone healthy scratch. It was the eighth time in the last 10 that Smith sat out.