A devastated Henrik Lundqvist tried to explain his feelings and tried to make sense of the final goal — the Adam Henrique overtime rebound that sent the Rangers home for the summer and the Devils to their first Stanley Cup finals since 2003.
Lundqvist kept coming back to the same words. He was “disappointed,” “empty,” “hurt,” and still couldn’t make sense of a gut-punching, game-ended play that just happened too fast to make proper sense of it.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what happened. I don’t even remember,” Lundqvist said. “It was just a big scramble in front. It’s not a good feeling when you just feel all the guys on top of you, behind you, in front of you. It’s just a big scramble and nobody knows where the puck is. You’re just hoping for a whistle.”
The loss dropped the goaltender to 2-8 in his career in playoff overtimes. That included an 0-7 start trumped this postseason by a pair of dramatic overtime victories last round against Washington.
He finished with 26 saves on 29 shots, but was often at his best during New Jersey’s early onslaught. But that, two Game 7 wins and, perhaps, a Vezina Trophy, meant nothing after tonight’s loss. The Devils walked off with the Eastern Conference title for the first time in nine years, beat the Rangers for just the second time in six playoff series and ended the Rangers’ streak of seven straight series’ wins when they held home-ice advantage.
Here’s more from Lundqvist…
• The Rangers cost themselves an opportunity to play another Game 7. They are still 5-0 at the Garden in Game 7s.
• The Devils’ fourth line burned the Rangers again. Ryan Carter scored the game’s first goal, giving the combination of Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier nine goals, 10 assists and a plus-16 rating this postseason. Carter and Gionta had both scored Wednesday night in New Jersey’s 5-3 Game 5 victory.
• Ruslan Fedotenko delivered against the Devils again, scoring the first Ranger goal when he punched home Ryan McDonagh’s wraparound try. He scored a point in five of the six games and finished the series with two goals and three assists after recording just two points (and no goals) in the first 14 playoff games.
• The offense was abysmal all postseason for the Rangers, but the main culprits against the Devils were Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. They combined for just one goal and four assists in the six games despite 35 shots on goal.
The highly-paid duo finished the series with a minus-5 rating. Richards failed to score a goal and shot a loose puck into the body of a prone Martin Brodeur midway through the third period that could’ve given the Rangers a lead. Gaborik recorded just one point all series — a Game 5 goal he shot from behind the goal line that went in off Brodeur.
As a team, the Rangers scored just 30 even-strength goals in 20 games this postseason.
• The merry-go-round of defense of Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger continued. Bickel was scratched for Eminger, who then played just 2:06, including 15 seconds in the second period and zero in the third period and overtime combined.
Bickel and John Mitchell both dressed and skated in warmups before they were announced as scratches.