The Swedish goalie is already a cult figure in the Big Apple
after spending years saving goals for the Rangers but his popularity
soared to legendary status after his roller-coaster week ended in
On Tuesday, in Montreal, the Rangers coach Alain Vigneault took the
extraordinary step of pulling Lundqvist from the game after he gave
up four goals inside the first two periods.
For a player who was named the National Hockey League's outstanding
netminder in 2012, it was a humiliating experience. And on that his
legions of fans in New York were still coming to grips with.
But on Thursday, Lundqvist was back in the thick of the action,
recalled to the starting lineup for Game Six of the series, and he
responded in brilliant fashion, stopping all 18 shots that were
fired at him as the Rangers won 1-0 to clinch the series.
"It's been tough," he later admitted.
"I kept telling myself all day, believe in what you're doing.
"I've been in that spot before. It gets silly, you get pulled. You
have a tough game, but you just have to stay confident."
With the crowd at Madison Square Garden chanting his name throughout
the contest, Lundqvist held his nerve to register his first shutout
of the series, including one jaw-dropping save from Thomas Vanek
that immediately went viral on the internet.
Deflecting from his own performance, he said: "I didn't have to do
much today, the guys played so great.
"But you still have to be in the right place mentally to make the
few saves and the shots I had to face.
"It's definitely a test mentally when you play a game like that. And
in the position you're in, you have so much to lose, but also so
much to win. You just have to look at it the right way."
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Vigneault, who said his decision to pull Lundqvist from the previous
game was part of a ploy to jolt the whole team into action after a
lacklustre display, was full of praise for his bearded netminder,
who won a silver medal for Sweden at this year's Sochi Olympics.
"He was totally focused. He was probably a little upset tonight
coming into the game," the coach said.
"I don't know if it was because of the opportunity or if he was
upset with the way it ended in Montreal in Game Five but he was
definitely focused, and those are not easy games to play.
"There is not a lot of work, but you've got to stay sharp. He had to
make some good saves, and he did."
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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