NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Madison Square Garden crowd saluted New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with chants of “Henry, Henry” after the final horn had sounded on Friday despite the Swede’s failure to carry the Rangers to another Game Seven victory.
Lundqvist had helped keep the clash against the Lightning scoreless through two periods with his brilliant reflexes and vision, but it was a puck he did not see that sent Tampa Bay on the road to a 2-0 victory and a place in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lightning center Alex Killorn backhanded the puck through traffic and past the Swedish netminder early in the third period for what proved to be the game winner.
Lundqvist had won six successive Game Sevens for the Rangers, winners of their last 10 playoff games when facing elimination at the Garden, dating back to 2008.
”Unfortunately, I never saw it until it was too late,“ said Lundqvist. ”There were just a lot of people in front of me.
“I felt sharp tonight. I felt like I was tracking pucks well, reading the play well. It was just one of those plays where they threw it in front and through screens.”
Tampa Bay’s second goal was supplied by Ondrej Palat, who blasted the puck past Lundqvist after a perfect cross-ice pass from Tyler Johnson racing down the right side.
“They played well ... you have to give them credit,” Lundqvist said.
The Garden crowd had been expecting better after the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Finals last year and topped the NHL in points over the regular season, but they still saluted Lundqvist as the teams gathered at center ice for handshakes.
“You put your heart and soul into this entire year to try and get back and get an opportunity to play in the Final and we were 20 minutes away,” the Swede said.
“To come up short, it’s tough. As a fan, they see what we go through and they go through it as well emotionally, I think, to watch all these games and all the work.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford