We’ve all been there before. When you’re having a bad day, you lose your cool. For the normally unflappable Henrik Lundqvist, that ugly moment came during Thursday night’s frustrating 4-1 loss at the Pens.
A day after celebrating his 34th birthday, Lundqvist had a rough second period. It started with a Pens’ rush that resulted in Ranger teammate Ryan McDonagh knocking over Lundqvist. The game was still scoreless. But he was hurting. With play still going on, he intentionally knocked the net off to get a whistle which resulted in a delay of game minor penalty. As seen in the video above, he was trying to get the refs’ attention. But lost it.
At the time, the Rangers didn’t know how hurt their star goalie was. Lundqvist stayed in the remainder of the period allowing three consecutive goals in 99 seconds. Following Chris Kreider’s third goal in the last four, the Pens responded on goals from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist to close the second up 3-1.
That was it for Lundqvist, who didn’t return from the locker room for the third. He allowed three goals on 22 shots. Following the game, he wasn’t available to the media. A tell tale sign that the injury was serious. Right now, the Rangers are calling it “neck spasms.” Alain Vigneault didn’t think he’d be out too long. But who knows.
The organization made an emergency recall from Hartford bringing up Magnus Hellberg. He’ll backup tonight’s starter Antti Raanta, who has the daunting task of facing the first overall Caps at Verizon Center. Coincidentally, he also got the start in the last meeting also in D.C. with the Rangers falling 5-2 on a Justin Williams’ hat trick. They fell apart in that one taking bad penalties.
Raanta has played better lately winning his last two starts against the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets. He allowed three goals on 64 shots. However, facing the high powered Caps is a big challenge. The league leaders enter tonight’s contest with a league best 47-12-4 record and 98 points with 19 games remaining. They’re 18 up on the Rangers, who also must concern themselves with the Islanders. The Isles are three behind for second with two games at hand. The teams face off at MSG Sunday.
Right now, the Blueshirts will focus on Washington. After beating them in the first match-up 5-2 on Nov. 3, they’ve lost the last three meetings by scores of 7-3 (12/20), 4-3 in overtime (1/9) and 5-2 (1/17). How will they respond to a difficult second game in a back-to-back against a rested opponent that played Wednesday?
McDonagh wasn’t happy with their response in the third last night. They struggled to generate offense only getting five shots on Marc-Andre Fleury. The Pens shut them down forcing Vigneault to shuffle the deck. Normally, they respond better. What will they have left for Ovechkin tonight?