Montreal defeated the Rangers 7-4 on Tuesday to cut New York’s series lead in half. The Rangers lead the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2, but are now showing signs of vulnerability after a Game 5 loss. The biggest reason for that vulnerability is the fact that Montreal knows they can beat Lundqvist. In Game 2, Lundqvist stood on his head to deny Montreal a chance at the win. He seemed impossible to beat then, but that simply can’t happen every night.
Nobody can question Lundqvist’s elite play, but he can’t be expected to stop over 40 shots every game and give up one goal or less. He’s played so well for so long that no one ever expects Lundqvist to have a bad or even mediocre performance. Unfortunately for New York, that’s what happened in Game 5.
Lundqvist gave up four goals on just 19 shots before being pulled for backup Cam Talbot in the second period. Credit Montreal for playing a great game with intense effort, but Lundqvist wasn’t at his best.
Montreal will enter next game with confidence in multiple areas. They’re riding an emotional home victory that has them right back in this series. They’re a team that really feeds off momentum, and they now know that New York’s most valuable player is not unstoppable.
Lundqvist has given up four goals three times this postseason, once each round and all of them in losses. The upside for New York is that Lundqvist rarely, if ever, has a bad game twice in a row. He knows how important it is that the Rangers win this series in six games and avoid heading back to Montreal.
While the spotlight is on Lundqvist, the pressure is on all of the Rangers to win Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.