Expected to be back in net, Lundqvist looks to build on this outing and help the Rangers win for the seventh time in 10 games Saturday night when they visit the Nashville Predators, who try to avoid losing a fourth in a row.
After posting a 4.38 goals-against average in losing his previous three starts, Lundqvist made a season-high 40 saves in Friday’s 3-0 win over Florida. It was the third shutout of the season for Lundqvist, who came up with several big stops as New York (13-10-1) was outshot 40-19.
“We needed him tonight,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “He played very well. We’ve gotta gut this out right here. It certainly was important the way Hank played tonight.”
Rookie Derek Stepan(notes) recorded his sixth goal Friday for New York, while Ryan Callahan(notes) and Brandon Prust(notes) also scored. Stepan has three goals and four assists during a six-game point streak.
The Rangers won for the sixth time in nine games, but for just the first time with Lundqvist playing since Nov. 15. Lundqvist credited new positioning in goal to his strong performance.
“I changed my stance a little bit,” he said. “I came back to how I used to play (with) a little bit higher stance, and my timing was better.”
Lundqvist was between the pipes for New York’s last game against Nashville, stopping 34 shots in a 2-1 loss at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 10. He has posted a 1.50 GAA in winning both career starts in Nashville, however.
The Predators (9-8-4) are returning to Nashville, where they’re just 1-1-4 since Oct. 16, after Friday’s 5-2 loss in Minnesota.
Steve Sullivan(notes) and Martin Erat(notes) each scored for the Predators, who have just three goals in losing their last three games. Sullivan’s goal was his team-leading sixth, but just his second in the last 18 games.
Pekka Rinne(notes) was shaky in net for the Predators, who have lost nine of 13 after starting the season 5-0-3. He allowed three goals on nine shots and was pulled before the start of the second period.
It was a surprisingly poor performance for Rinne, who was 2-1-1 with a 0.96 GAA and one shutout in his previous four starts, but Nashville coach Barry Trotz didn’t think it was entirely his fault.
“One of our strengths is our six D,” Trotz said. “I thought they had a real average game.”
Rinne, in his third season as the Predators’ starting goaltender, has never faced the Rangers, who are concluding a three-game road trip.