BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 14: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers stops a shot in the first period against the Boston Bruins on February 14, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Rangers appear almost unbeatable in recent weeks, and a large part of that is due to a system the skaters follow like a blueprint, and the man they have guarding the net in the blue paint.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 42 shots and Ryan Callahan scored the only goal New York would need in leading the New York Rangers to a 3-0 victory Tuesday over the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
The Rangers used a familiar formula in defeating the Bruins by jumping out to a lead, then putting on the clamps and locking down the opposition. "King Henrik" was incredible in outplaying the Bruins' Tim Thomas, as the Rangers were outshot 42-20 for the game, which included an amazing 32-8 over the final two periods. Despite the wide margin in shot differential between the clubs, there was a feeling of calm from the confident Rangers that they were in control throughout.
New York took full advantage of their only power play of the night and the fact that Boston's top defenseman Zdeno Chara was in the penalty box for closing his hand on the puck, as Callahan scored his 23rd goal of the season midway through the opening period to stake the visitors to a 1-0 lead.
The Rangers added to their lead in the waning moments of the first period, when a Ryan McDonagh shot from the left half wall banked off Chara in front of the Boston net and caromed past Thomas with just 11.8 seconds remaining before the first intermission. The goal was a backbreaker, as Lundqvist and New York with a two-goal lead is a virtual lock these days.
Thomas kept the score close late in the second when he made a glove stop on a Brad Richards shot that was ticketed for the top corner to thwart a New York odd-man rush.
But Artem Anisimov was able to snap a wrist shot high to Thomas' blocker side off another odd-man rush to add an insurance marker, scoring his 10th of the year to make it an insurmountable 3-0 lead at 2:53 of the third.
The Bruins appeared to break through the force field that Lundqvist provided in front of the cage, as a Dennis Seidenberg point shot got past the goaltender's right pad and looked to have entered the corner of the net. But as the netminder and teammates looked at the net in bewilderment, it was apparent the puck lodged in the outside apron of the net. After video replay, it was confirmed that the puck had never entered the goal.
Lundqvist's best saves of the night came in the second and third frames. In the middle stanza, the Lundqvist save was made while he was flat on his back on a Chara blast from the slot that hit off the back of his helmet or between his shoulder blades and deflected to the corner. In the third, he made a spectacular glove save on Tyler Seguin on a last-minute power play breakaway.
The 29-year-old Swede improved his record to 27-11-4, with an NHL-leading seventh shutouts on the year, passing Jaroslav Halak of the St. Louis Blues and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, who each have six. Lundqvist is now 15-4 in his last 19 decisions.
The Rangers have now won four in a row and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, with both losses coming at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. One was 4-3 in a shootout, and the other a 1-0 shutout that New York appeared to tie in the final three seconds of regulation, only to be incorrectly disallowed when Marian Gaborik was cross-checked into goalie Martin Brodeur by Devil David Clarkson.
The Bruins dropped to 2-4-0 in February and have now been shutout in three of their last six contests.