Another sign that Henrik Lundqvist is back on top of his game came Monday afternoon when the Rangers goaltender was selected as the NHL's Third Star of the Week for the week ending January 12th. Lundqvist started all four games the Rangers played, backstopping New York to a 3-0-1 mark while posting a 1.97 goals against average and a .943 save percentage.
"Hank is such a competitor, since Day One he's been working real hard on his game to get it to the level he's used to and what he's gotten everyone used to" explained Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. "He was a little bit off, but right now I think he's back on track. He's making the key saves at the right time that are permitting us to stay in games, come back in games, and to win games."
Lundqvist's week began with a 36-save effort as the Rangers grabbed a point in a 4-3 shootout loss on home ice to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. Two nights later he was a warrior with 35 saves, including a slew of game-saving stops late in the third period, as the Rangers beat the Blackhawks in Chicago 3-2. Lundqvist then stopped 24 of 26 shots in the Rangers exciting come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars at The Garden on Friday, before his terrific 37-save performance in leading New York past the Philadelphia Flyers at MSG Sunday night, 4-1.
He will look to continue his roll Tuesday night when the Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Garden. Vigneault confirmed after practice Monday that Lundqvist would make his fifth consecutive start Tuesday, and his eighth in the last nine games.
"I feel my game is getting there," said Lundqvist, who is 15-16-3 in 35 appearances this season with a 2.68 goals against average and .910 save percentage. "I've been eliminating the small mistakes and that makes a big difference. I've been more patient, too, which has been key. And winning always give you, and the group, confidence."
The Rangers are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games. Cam Talbot started the first three in this stretch, and has started four of the Rangers last 11 games, with Lundqvist handling the bulk of the work since the holidays ended.
"We have so much confidence in both of our goaltenders," stated defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "We believe in them, and that confidence breeds in the rest of the team, too. Now it's important to keep stringing wins together here. This is an important stretch before the Olympic break."
Lundqvist finished behind Islanders center John Tavares, who was the NHL's First Star this past week, and Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller, who was the league's Second Star.