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ICE HOCKEY

Lundqvist shines as Rangers reach NHL final

Swedish ice-hockey ace Henrik Lundqvist had an 18-save shutout as the New York Rangers advanced to their first Stanley Cup final in 20 years on Thursday with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Lundqvist shines as Rangers reach NHL final
Henrik Lundqvist in action for the New York Rangers. Photo: AP

Dominic Moore scored a second-period goal for the Rangers, who captured the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference championship four games to two in front of a crowd of 18,000 at Madison Square Garden.

Goaltender Lundqvist, who backstopped Sweden to a silver medal in the Sochi Olympics in February, said he was on top of his game Thursday.

"I don't know that I have ever been more determined to win a game," said Lundqvist, who set a franchise record for most career post-season victories with 42.

"It took me nine years. I finally made my first Stanley Cup final."

The Rangers will face either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Los Angeles Kings in the National Hockey League's championship series, which begins Wednesday. The Kings lead the other league semi-final series 3-2 with game six scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles.

New York improved to 6-4 at home in the 2014 post-season. This was the first game at Madison Square Garden in this series not to go into overtime.

"We played, in my book, our best game of the play-offs," said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.

New York barrelled through the Eastern Conference by beating the Philadelphia Flyers in game seven in the first round and then came back from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

By beating Montreal, they punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since winning it all in 1994.

That Stanley Cup saw the Mark Messier-led Rangers snap a 54-year dry spell when they edged the Vancouver Canucks in seven games for their fourth league championship.

Goaltender Dustin Tokarski was brilliant in the series but he couldn't get Montreal over the hump on Thursday. Tokarski, who came into the series when number one goalie Carey Price went down with an injury, made 31 saves.

"Right now it is tough to think of what could have been," said Tokarski.

Said Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, "We had a letdown."

The Canadiens were seeking to return to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993 when they won the title. Montreal is the last Canadian-based team to win it all.

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SPORT

Scary pictures of Eddie Läck stretchered off ice after violent collision

Swedish goalie Eddie Läck ended up in hospital after being sent sprawling as the Detroit Red Wings' Andreas Athanasiou scored a game-winning goal with 3:01 left in overtime.

Scary pictures of Eddie Läck stretchered off ice after violent collision
Eddie Läck was carried out on a stretcher. Photo: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Athanasiou crashed into Läck on the play and the Carolina Hurricanes goalie, who missed significant stretches of the NHL season with concussions, was attended to on the ice for more than 15 minutes as both teams and the crowd in Raleigh, North Carolina, watched in silence.

He was taken off on a stretcher and on to hospital for evaluation, giving a thumbs-up sign as he was carried off the ice.


The moment Athanasiou crashed into Läck. Photo: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

The Hurricanes later released a statement saying Läck was undergoing tests but had full feeling in his extremities.

“I did see it,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said when asked about the replay. “[Athanasiou] obviously went into the net hard, and there was a little shot to the head there at the end of the play and that's where the problem lies right now.”

Athanasiou said he hadn't even realized he had hit Läck as he scored the goal that gave the Red Wings a 4-3 victory.

“I had a tight angle there, so I just tried to drive the net and I'm fortunate it worked out,” he said. “You never want to see a player go down like that and go on a stretcher. I hope he's okay. I had no idea I hit him.”