The New York Rangers are headed back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since the Mark Messier administration, and the man between the pipes deserves much of the credit.
That man would be goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who turned away all 18 Montreal Canadiens shots Thursday in a 1-0, series-clinching shutout in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The most dazzling of those 18 saves came late in the second period with the game still knotted at 0-0. Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek sent a backhanded shot in on Lundqvist that was deflected into the air by a diving Dan Girardi. The puck nearly knuckled its way over the goal line, but the Swedish netminder contorted his body to slap it away with his blocker, hurling his stick to the side in the process.
Lundqvist’s stop quickly proved crucial, as Rangers center Dominic Moore beat Dustin Tokarski for the eventual game-winning goal less than three minutes later.
New York will begin the Cup Final on the road against the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks-Los Angeles Kings series. The Kings currently lead that series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Friday night in L.A.
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