NEW YORK – For the playoffs, the game day staff at Madison Square Garden chose the new U2 song “Magnificent” as the Rangers introductory tune when the team takes to the ice.
Although the Fab Irish Four didn’t have Henrik Lundqvist in mind when they wrote the song, after watching his play, they may have to change the words.
Because in this series, The King has been magnificent.
“He’s amazing,” said Ranger captain Chris Drury. “There’s not much you can’t say what he does for this team. For us, it’s a great example of what hard work and dedication does. He certainly brings that every day.”
After a less than stellar performance in Game 3 – yet still very good – Lundqvist bounced back to his opening series form, stopping 38 shots in the very intense 2-1 win over the Capitals in Game 4 of the opening round to give the Rangers a commanding 3-1 lead.
It couldn’t come at a better time, with the Capitals hungry to tie the series after their 4-0 win on Monday, Lundqvist stood tall as the immovable object took on the irresistible force in Alexander Ovechkin. With no lights of the lamp in the series, the NHL’s leading goal scorer seemed to be due and Ranger netminder contained the 24 year-old superstar.
Ovechkin did get his point with a tally in the third to cut the lead in half, but it was the Blueshirts who had the last laugh. Stopping Washington rush after Washington rush, the Ranger defense was able to contain the high octane Capital attack, while No. 30 became the last line of defense.
“That is why we have a very good goalie and he is going to have to be good,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “They are going to get chances. That is just the way it is. We knew that going in. We talked about that before we started the playoffs. We just need to contain them the best way we can. At times we are good at it, at times we struggle.”
The Blueshirts were able to stay back and contain Washington thanks to two Ranger goals off Simeon Varlamov, who had 19 saves. The first coming with about six minutes left of a very well played first period when Paul Mara was able to put one through traffic from the point.
And then Drury – playing with an undisclosed injury believed to be an injured wrist – was able to get a misplayed rebound by Varlamov and put it in an open net early in the second.
“Dru has been awesome for us,” Mara said. “He’s battling through things that a lot of players probably wouldn’t be on the ice with. He’s our leader. He has scored clutch goals for many years now and that was huge for us tonight.”
Also playing a big role was the Garden faithful. After the Capitals took the fans out of Game 3, The Mecca rocked again tonight, especially during a very intense third period, where the Rangers had to kill off two very bad penalties by Sean Avery during the last 11 minutes.
“Just coming to the Garden on a night like this,” Drury said, “and being a Ranger and having the fans respond like they have been in these playoffs, there’s no feeling like it.”
Like there’s no better feeling to Lundqvist’s game, which the Rangers hope continues to be magnificent.
Notes: Game 5 will take place on Friday, April 24th at the Verizon Center…Tortorella used Brandon Dubinsky to shadow Nicklas Backstrom in the third period, effectively shutting down the other high flying Capital…Although only minors were called, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau felt the NHL will look at the Avery’s infractions and possibly hand out a suspension…Dubinsky, Lauri Korpikoski, and Derek Morris had the assists on the night…The Rangers are 11-0 in series after they go up 3-1.