NEW YORK, N.Y. – Henrik Lundqvist is caught up in a numbers game he is quite happy about. With each win, the Swedish goalie is rewriting the New York Rangers’ record book.
Lundqvist earned his 300th NHL victory and 49th career shutout in the Rangers’ 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
With his 30-save performance, he shut out the Red Wings for the second time this season and helped New York complete a three-game season sweep of its Original Six rival. Lundqvist is one win shy of tying Mike Richter’s franchise record. He caught Rangers great Ed Giacomin for the club mark in shutouts.
“It’s a great feeling to be up there with those guys,” Lundqvist said after his fourth shutout this season. “This organization has been around for so long, so to be up there with them, it’s very special, and I am proud just thinking about it.
“It’s a lot of fun when you think about it, and I started thinking about it after two periods—why not go for the doughnut in this game and reach 300 wins? It was a good challenge for me.”
Chris Kreider helped him achieve it by scoring twice in the third—the first goal coming just 14 seconds in.
“He’s the best goalie in the world, best around the league, and we’re lucky enough to have him on our team,” Kreider said. “It’s kind of his style to get a shutout for his 300th win.”
Lundqvist (24-20-4) was serenaded by the crowd with chants of “Hen-rik, Hen-rik” in the game’s final minute. He has won two straight, after allowing a total of 13 goals in three losses (0-2-1) following the Olympic break, and given up just two goals in the process.
He got back to his winning ways Friday at Carolina, which is also the site of the Rangers’ next game Tuesday.
“He’s been the face of the franchise and will continue to be,” forward Brad Richards said. “He’s only been in the league eight or nine years, and it seems like 30 or 40 wins each year.”
Brian Boyle made it 1-0 in the first period for the Rangers, who moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division—one point ahead of Philadelphia. New York is three points ahead of Detroit, which is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990.
Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh both assisted on each of Kreider’s goals.
Jimmy Howard stopped 28 shots for the Red Wings, who have lost three of four (1-2-1).
“Can’t win games if you don’t score,” Howard said. “They played their game really well.”
Kreider provided all the insurance Lundqvist needed for his milestone win. He made it 2-0 by deflecting in McDonagh’s shot from the left point and pushed the lead to three goals at 12:12, beating Howard with a shot as he drove down the left wing for his 16th.
The Rangers went ahead early when defenceman John Moore wound up for a shot inside the blue line that was blocked by Detroit forward Daniel Alfredsson. The puck deflected into the slot to Boyle, who spun and sent a drive that beat Howard at 5:14 for his fifth goal.
It was New York’s first traditional 5-on-5 goal in three games. Both Rangers tallies in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto were short-handed goals by defenceman McDonagh. In Friday’s victory at Carolina, McDonagh scored another short-handed goal, Stepan connected on a power play, Rick Nash scored during 4-on-4 play, and Carl Hagelin sealed the win with an empty-netter.
Lundqvist was sharp throughout. He even shook off being covered by the net, which was tipped over onto him from behind when Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader checked Rangers defenceman Anton Stralman into the back of the cage late in the second.
“He’s one of the best, and he was extra solid today like the Olympics,” said Alfredsson, a fellow Swede. “We didn’t execute well at all. We just couldn’t get it done.
“Now everything is magnified. We have to correct our mistakes.”
The Red Wings did little with two power plays in the middle frame and recorded only three total shots in their three advantages of the game.
Detroit had scored at least one power-play goal in five straight games.
“That was probably our worst game since Jan. 1,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We did not play very good.
“I was disappointed with our group. We, obviously, as a coaching staff didn’t have them well prepared.”
NOTES: Lundqvist beat Detroit 1-0 on Jan. 16. … Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk missed his fourth straight game as he continues to rest his ailing left knee. … Detroit has lost four straight to the Rangers, dating to Feb. 7, 2011.