New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has spoiled his team's fans for years with stellar play between the pipes, but in backstopping the Rangers to a 2-1 Game 7 overtime victory Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals, the man dubbed "The King" took his trademark consistency to a new level.
Lundqvist stood tall - and sometimes sideways - to make 35 saves en route to victory. Not remarkable in and of itself? Maybe not, considering his track record for clutch play. But he has now achieved that exact same feat three years in a row - 35 saves in a Game 7 to secure for the Rangers advancement in the playoffs. And they all occurred on May 13.
In 2013, the Swedish netminder proved too much for the same Capitals as he stopped all 35 of their shots during the Rangers' 5-0 victory.
In 2014, he kept 35 of 36 pucks out of the net as the Rangers topped the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last night, it was another 35 of 36 stops, including several during a period of sustained pressure from Washington at the beginning of overtime, before Derek Stepan found the back of the net to send the Madison Square Garden faithful into ecstasy.
He actually defeated the Capitals in 2012 in Game 7 as well, but that was on May 12 and he made a paltry 22 saves, so that obviously doesn't count.
Some other notable statistics:
- Lundqvist has now played in seven Game 7s, giving up a grand total of just seven goals. He's 6-1 in those games.
- The Rangers have played 14 consecutive one-goal games in the playoffs, dating back to last year, when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. New York is 9-5 over that span.
- Forward Kevin Hayes became the first Ranger rookie to score for the team in a Game 7 since "Muzz" Patrick accomplished the feat in 1939. (I just wanted to write "Muzz" Patrick.)