Goalie mad? Goalie mad. Goalie smash!
In the second period of what was for the moment a scoreless game against the Penguins, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was run into by Ryan McDonagh, losing his stick. As play continued at the other end, an increasingly furious Lundqvist tried to get the attention of the officials, looking for a whistle to stop play. He was unsuccessful, and when the puck came back toward his zone, Lundqvist figured out a way to force them to stop play.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that mad,” Derek Stepan said.
Lundqvist earned a delay-of-game penalty, and from appearances the officials did the right thing in letting play continue. Lundqvist was well out of his crease, and he was bowled over by his own teammate; he had no right to a whistle.
Slightly trickier is that Lundqvist may have been injured on the play. He was removed after the second period for what Rangers coach Alain Vigneault described as neck spasms. But Lundqvist apparently didn’t bring that up when he was raging at his cage, and didn’t mention it when he skated to the bench during the stoppage.
“I didn’t know,” Vigneault said. “Nobody knew. I don’t think Hank made it very clear to the referee at that time either, so we knew when we came in for the second [intermission] that he was having issues with his neck there, but at that time we didn’t.”
Things very quickly went south for Lundqvist and the Rangers. After taking the lead at 16:50 of the second, they allowed goals to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Patrick Hornqvist in quick succession. The Penguins hadn’t scored on Lundqvist in their last 97-plus minutes against him; they scored three times in 99 seconds. An empty netter from Phil Kessel sealed the 4-1 Pittsburgh win.
But still, all anyone could talk about was Lundqvist’s hulk-out. Goalies are loathe to criticize other goalies, but Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t having it.
“I think that’s baby stuff,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “I get mad. I get disturbed. I’ll smash my stick, but I wouldn’t push the net over and stop play and get a penalty.”
It was an important game for both teams, as they enter the final fourth of the regular season. With the win, the Penguins extended their lead for the final wild card spot in the East, and remained three points back of that third spot in the Metropolitan. With the loss, the Rangers saw their hold slip on second in the Metro, and take on NHL-best Washington tonight. Without Lundqvist in net. At least the net will be safe.