NEW YORK | It shouldn’t have been surprising that John Tortorella, a coach of few words, had a one-word answer when asked if he was concerned about his New York Rangers’ lack of offense.
“No,” he said.
When goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is playing like he did in a shutout victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 6 Sunday, there’s almost no reason to worry. Lundqvist made 27 saves as the Rangers won 1-0.
“Especially late in the game, he made some great saves,” Tortorella said. “The ultimate goal for Hank, in his mind, is to win the Stanley Cup. But you need to go through these type of situations to get there obviously. So I thought he stood in there last year for us, and he certainly came up big tonight.”
Lundqvist has stopped 206 of 218 Caps shots through six games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. But until Sunday, he hadn’t stolen a game for the Rangers.
“You expect him to close [the door] every single night,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said. “Just the way he plays, obviously, one of the best goalies in the league. We’re lucky we have some of the best scorers in the league and the best playmakers. I just hope that our guys are better than their guys.”
They weren’t in Game 6. Asked if his Caps getting shut out was a result of Lundqvist or not generating enough, Oates said: “Probably a little bit of both.”
Captain Alex Ovechkin had at least one Grade-A chance but couldn’t score. Lundqvist frustrated the Caps all afternoon.
“Everybody knows he’s a great goalie,” Ovechkin said. “The chance what we have, we created. We just have to do the same thing tomorrow.”
This wasn’t even Lundqvist’s best game of the series, though his performance earned him first-star honors. In crediting opposing netminder Braden Holtby for his play (28 saves on 29 shots), Lundqvist pointed to patience as the key to his shutout.
“You try to be active to find pucks,” the Vezina Trophy finalist said. “There’s definitely bodies in front of you, but if you’re active and you try to find it it’s a lot easier. I felt like I was patient and I waited for the pucks.
“Holtby was playing really well. He kept them in the game, especially in the second period, so I felt this would be a tight one, maybe one or two goals tops. My focus was to try to shut it down. It definitely helps when the guys play like that in front of you. We really paid the price.”
The reward for Lundqvist and the Rangers is a Game 7 Monday night at Verizon Center.