It was far from perfect, or inspiring or anything more than just what it was — a win. Yet in the visitors’ dressing room at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Sunday night, there was Henrik Lundqvist underneath the Broadway hat, an unfamiliar sight in this ugly season of mediocrity, and even if the Rangers franchise goaltender was subdued in his joy, finally he was no longer joyless. “I’m just trying to smile a little bit, even though it’s tough,” said Lundqvist, who made 15 of his 37 saves in the third period of a 4-3 win over the sluggish Lightning. “A win definitely helps, so you might see me smiling tomorrow.” It doesn’t take a hard jogging of the memory to look upon the previous three games the Rangers had played, all started by backup Cam Talbot as Lundqvist watched, openly befuddled by how the team responded with a different netminder. But coach Alain Vigneault has said all along how important it is for the team’s long-term success Lundqvist regain his Vezina Trophy-winning form of two seasons ago, and that could at least be seen in glimpses as Lundqvist took his team to 19-19-2 and 4-2-1 in its past seven. “I think Henrik is an elite goaltender,” Vigneault said. “He knows what he needs to do to get his game in order. He’s been working extremely hard with [goalie coach] Benoit [Allaire] to find his game, and tonight, obviously, he was the difference in the third period.” The Lightning (23-12-4) didn’t find their legs until the third period, having lost 2-1 in a shootout to the visiting Canadiens the night before. But when they did, it was Lundqvist standing tall, not getting startled by Valtteri Filppula’s goal 8:14 into the third that cut the Rangers’ lead to 4-3.
Lundqvist, back in for Talbot, leads Rangers past Lightning
New York Post | Dec 30