A win may be worth just two points in the NHL. But over the past 400 victories, Henrik Lundqvist has helped Rangers fans make priceless memories.
Since joining the Rangers’ organization in 2000, Lundqvist‘s tenure between the Rangers’ net’s pipes has taken over the majority of the post-lockout era, the Swedish born goaltender entering New York City sports lore. To put things in perspective, for example, ever since Lundqvist took over, and kept, the Rangers’ full-time goaltender duties in 2005, the New York Jets have had 11 different starting quarterbacks.
Joining 11 other legends of the game as the few, proud goaltenders to tally 400 wins, we take a look back on the 10 biggest (regular season) wins of Lundqvist’s storied career, which hopefully doesn’t end without a well-deserved raise of the Stanley Cup…
#1-10/13/05 vs New Jersey
Stepping in for Kevin Weekes, Lundqvist made his first career start on October 8, 2005 against Martin Broduer and the New Jersey Devils, the first of many classic matchups the two rivals would play. The Rangers lost Lundqvist’s debut in overtime, but five days later, Lundqvist took his revenge, stopping all but one of the Devils’ 21 shots in a 4-1 Rangers victory. Little did anyone know that the win was the first of many, as well as the start of a hockey resurgence in New York City.
#3-10/17/05 vs Florida
Less than a week later, Lundqvist registered the first shutout of his career when the clawing Florida Panthers came to town. 23 saves were needed to capture the victory, part of an early season surge that put the Rangers back in hockey’s national conversation. The early days of the Rangers’ resurgence were anchored by Lundqvist and Jaromir Jagr, who scored twice in this 4-0 Ranger win. The pair helped end a Rangers’ playoff drought dating back to 1997, and they have missed the playoffs just once since.
#100-3/18/08 vs Pittsburgh
The Penguins have been another common Lundqvist foe, being in the same division. Pittsburgh currently holds the upper hand, taking over the rivalry in last year’s playoffs, but Lundqvist entered triple digits with a 22-save performance in what became a 5-2 win. In the regular season, 29 of Lundqvist’s wins have come against the Penguins.
#200-2/17/11 vs Los Angeles
Three years before he would face off against them in his first ever Stanley Cup Final appearance, Lundqvist earned the 200th win against the Los Angeles Kings. Appropriately, this milestone came via a 4-3 shootout win. Lundqvist has faced 349 shootout shots in his career, second to only Roberto Luongo. His save percentage of .745 in shootouts is second amongst goalies with at least 100 shootout shots faced, trailing only Semyon Varlamov of Colorado and Marc-Andre Fleury of Pittsburgh.
#230-1/2/12 @ Philadelphia
Lundqvist owns a record of 33-14-4 all-time against the hated Flyers, but none were more memorable than the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park, the Rangers’ first ever regular season outdoor game. The Rangers fell behind 2-0, but conjured up a big comeback, thanks in no small part to Lundqvist stymieing the power Flyers offense. When Ryan McDonagh was called for covering the puck up in the crease in the game’s final minute, Lundqvist faced Daniel Briere, who was awarded a penalty shot in the chaos. He made the stop, saving the 3-2 Rangers victory. Lundqvist is undefeated in three outdoor starts, the others coming over the Devils and Islanders during the Stadium Series festivites in 2014 at Yankee Stadium.
#300-3/9/14 vs Detroit
In another case of appropriate timing, Lundqvist earning #300 was earned via a shutout of the high powered Red Wings. In a nationally televised matinee, Lundqvist appropriately made 30 saves against the Rangers’ Original Six foe, earning two place in Rangers history in one win. Not only did he enter the 300 club, but he also tied Eddie Giacomin with the 49th shutout of his career in the 3-0 win.
#302-3/18/14 @ Ottawa
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Lundqvist’s career is that he has accomplished everything, thus far anyway, with one franchise, the New York Rangers. Lundqvist left his permanent mark in Rangers history with this win, an 8-4 triumph over the Senators, which allowed him to pass Mike Richter for the most all time for a Rangers goalie. Considering Lundqvist appears to have a few more years left in him, whoever takes over will have a huge task ahead of him.
#303-3/22/14-@ New Jersey
Lundqvist’s storied history against the Devils continued in this victory at Prudential Center, a 2-0 Rangers win. With Broduer netminding on the other side, Lundqvist made 21 saves for the 50th shutout of his career, breaking the tie he had achieved with Giacomin two weeks earlier. Lundqvist even helped the Rangers seal the deal, assisting on Derek Stepan’s empty net goal in the final minute. To date, Lundqvist has 35 wins against the Devils, his most against any opponent.
#390-12/31/16 @ Colorado
Lundqvist closed out 2016 on a historic note, helping the Rangers come from behind and earn a 6-2 win. With the victory, Lundqvist passed Dominik Hasek for most wins all-time by a European-born goaltender. Rangers fan certainly hope that Lundqvist’s career path follows Hasek’s in terms of getting a Stanley Cup title before his career is all said and done, though they hope he won’t have to go elsewhere to achieve that title.
Both games against the Avalanche turned out to be historic for Lundqvist, as he became the 12th goalie in league history to earn 400 wins. In the come-from-behind victory, Lundqvist made 17 saves in the third period, and the Rangers prevailed by a 4-2 final. With the victory, Lundqvist, in 727 career games, became the fastest goalie in NHL history to get to 400 wins. The one he passed to break that record? Broduer, the all-time goalie leader at 735.
So here’s to more years of the greatest goaltender in Rangers history…400 and counting. The resurgence of New York Rangers hockey was a team effort, but no one has had a hand in more than Lundqvist. Now, the countdown to 500…and Stanley Cup #1…carries on.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490
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