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NHL New York Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist Outduels Jimmy Howard in Epic Win for New York Rangers

Adam Hunger – USA TODAY Sports

If you are a diehard hockey fan or simply a fan that loves defensive struggles, Thursday’s New York Rangers-Detroit Red Wings game was perfect. And it was not only an epic 1-0 win for the Rangers but one of their most critical this season.

Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves in his first shutout of 2014 while Jimmy Howard made 48 saves in an electric performance for Detroit. The Rangers’ lone goal when a Mats Zuccarello pass deflected off a Detroit defender into the top of the net. Yes, it was a fortunate goal, but it was a break the Rangers have sorely lacked in recent times. What’s even more important is that Lundqvist shut down an ultra-talented offensive team that is capable of lighting up the scoreboard night after night.

Is this a harbinger of greater things to come for the Rangers? It’s very possible.

As Lundqvist has rediscovered his game, the Rangers’ confidence level has shot up to new heights. They will have to win games in April, May and possibly June with their much-improved power play and secondary scoring. Performances like Lundqvist’s on Thursday may also have to be the norm for the Rangers in crunch time, though.

Of course, it is a dangerous way for the Rangers to live, but haven’t we seen this enough over the past few years?

It was important for the Rangers to bounce back after a tough loss to Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning in yet another goaltending duel. It may have been the most ulcer-inducing fashion, but it was a critical two points to give the Rangers a little breathing room in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

This is the type of game the Rangers will have to win in a big spot, and Thursday night proves once again that they have the goaltender to succeed in such a situation.

Matt Stillwell is a New York Rangers contributor for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattNYR12, “like” him on Facebook and connect with him on Google Plus for all NYR news and notes!