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Lundqvist eyes record as Rangers host Sharks
(SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Lundqvist didn't have one of his better starts the last time he faced the San Jose Sharks, but if the New York netminder can find a way to rebound against them on Sunday afternoon he'll earn himself another Rangers record.
Lundqvist looks to become the franchise's all-time wins leader in a matchup with the Sharks, who come in having won five straight games.
The Rangers salvaged the finale of a three-game road trip on Friday night with a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets as Lundqvist settled down after a slow start. The netminder yielded two goals on the first five shots he faced, but ended with 30 stops to record his 301st career victory.
Lundqvist matched Mike Richter for the most wins in franchise history as he has gone 301-192-61 with a 2.27 goals against average and 49 shutouts in his career since the Rangers picked him in the seventh round of the 2000 draft.
"Extremely proud feeling to be up there with him. What he meant to this organization for so many years and what he's done, just being up there is a huge honor," said Lundqvist of his 301st win.
"It also means I've been lucky. I've played for a long time here behind a bunch of great players and coaches who helped and supported me throughout the years. (The number) feels really good right now, but I hope I have a lot more to give here."
Carl Hagelin was one of those players to support Lundqvist on Friday, picking up the first hat trick of his career. Chris Kreider also had a goal and defenseman Kevin Klein notched two assists.
Hagelin's hat trick came after he had scored just one goal in his previous 13 games, while Kreider has four three tallies in his past four contests.
"We knew (the Jets) were going to come hard," Lundqvist said. "We got a great start with the first goal, but then they pushed back a little bit and they had really good speed. We expected it, but after that second goal, it's about how you respond, and we did it in the right way."
The Rangers, who will head back out for three straight on the road after this game, are tied for second in the Metropolitan Division with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have a game in hand. Both clubs are just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Lundqvist figures to get the start today at home and is 2-2-0 with a 3.08 GAA in his career versus the Sharks. However, he did not make it out of the second period when the clubs first met in San Jose back on Oct. 8, yielding four goals on 26 shots.
Still, the Rangers are 7-3-0 with a tie in their last 11 meetings with the Sharks and have won three of the last four encounters at home.
San Jose comes in on its longest win streak since claiming six straight victories from Jan. 14-25. The Sharks opened a three-game road trip with a win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday and followed up the next night with a 4-3 decision over the New York Islanders.
Antti Niemi made 35 saves and Martin Havlat had the game-winning goal. Matt Nieto, Joe Thornton and Jason Demers also scored and James Sheppard finished with two assists.
"When you win two in a row, two days in a row, it's special," Thornton said. "We're a confident group right now. We're relying on each other, we're working extremely hard for each other. We feel if we play our game we can beat anybody, and that's a good feeling to have."
San Jose's current run has it two points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
Niemi made 18 saves to best the Rangers earlier this season and is 1-1-1 against them lifetime with a 2.92 GAA.
03/16 09:58:17 ET