Who knows how exhausted he would have been if not for the 28 drives that never penetrated the wall of defense that shielded him?
Lundqvist allowed just one first-period goal in New York’s 4-1 victory in Philadelphia on Tuesday night that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead in the first-round series between Metropolitan Division rivals.
“Shot blocking is a skill, but it takes a lot of will and courage. Our guys have that,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday during a conference call. “It has more to do with the willingness to find that lane and block that shot.
“You know it’s coming and you know it’s going to hurt. That’s just part of winning hockey. Teams that usually have that in their repertoire are usually good teams. We had to make some great defensive plays.”
New York took an early 2-0 edge in Game 3, yielded momentum back to the Flyers — just as the Rangers did in their Game 2 home loss Sunday — but managed to restore the two-goal lead in the second period and add an insurance goal in the third to reclaim home-ice advantage in the series.
“It’s a big part in the playoffs,” Lundqvist said. “That’s huge when guys pay the price like that. It’s tough mentally for the other team when you try to get going and guys are just throwing themselves in front of the puck and stop it.
“I think it brings a lot of energy to the group when you see a big block because every play matters right now. Even though it’s a 3-1 game, if they score it can change everything.”
This was defense the Flyers weren’t used to, however. The most shots Philadelphia had blocked in any game this season was 30 against Toronto on March 8.
“One thing we need to look at is make sure that the puck goes through,” Giroux said. “Our defense did a good job blocking shots. When it’s going to start going through, it’ll start going in.”
The Flyers, who had an additional 20 shot attempts that missed the net, got in front of 11 potential drives by the Rangers. But Ray Emery allowed four shots to go in before he was replaced in the third period by previously injured No. 1 goalie Steve Mason, who is the likely starter in Game 4 on Friday in Philadelphia.