New York Rangers beat Montreal 1-0 to reach Stanley Cup finals
Henrik Lundqvist shuts out the Canadiens as New York take the Eastern series decider 4-2
Henrik Lundqvist waited nine years for a night like this. For the New York Rangers franchise it was 20 years in the making.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Broadway Blueshirts were in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since captain Mark Messier was in charge.
Lundqvist and the Rangers shook off a rough loss in Montreal two nights earlier and shut down the Canadiens 1-0 to win game six of the Eastern Conference finals and move on to their first championship round appearance since taking the title in 1994.
"Enjoy the moment right now, but we are not done," forward Martin St Louis said. "It's going to be fun. Take it all in, but leave it out there, as well."
The Rangers had a 3-1 series lead before falling 7-4 in game five when Lundqvist was pulled after allowing four goals in less than two periods.
Although New York knew they had two chances to eliminate the Canadiens, the team's focus was on game six. Another trip back to Montreal was a dreaded experience the Rangers fought to avoid.
"It's unbelievable right now," defenceman Ryan McDonagh said.
"It's a great feeling knowing that you get the opportunity. We'll enjoy what we accomplished here, but we know what we are trying to get done.
"Our group isn't finished yet. We don't want this to end. We want to continue the journey." Lundqvist was not overly busy in stopping all 18 shots he faced, but there was no margin for error as Dominic Moore's second-period goal was the only offence in the clincher.
"We played so well the entire game," Lundqvist said. "For me it was more about just being focused on the shots they had."
Lundqvist quickly grew tired of the questions about his poor night on Tuesday. Now he is in the finals for the first time in his nine-year career.
"It's been tough," Lundqvist said. "You have so many highs. You have a few lows where you're questioning a lot of things, but then you just have to make up your mind, you can't have any excuses. I don't think I've been more determined to win a hockey game. To put ourselves in a spot where we can play for the Cup is extremely special."
Lundqvist leaped several times in his crease with his hands raised as streamers were fired off from the rafters at the end.
"It was just such a great feeling to see how we responded from the last game," Lundqvist said. "The third period, I think we played our best period of the play-offs. When it mattered the most, the guys really stepped up."
Lundqvist tied the team record for play-off shutouts with nine.
The Rangers are the first team to advance to the finals after being stretched to seven games in the first two rounds.
The Stanley Cup finals will begin on Wednesday in Chicago or Los Angeles, who lead the Western finals 3-2.