Never did the numbers 20 and 1 go as well together as they did Monday night.
Lundqvist bounced back from a slump and a bout with a stomach bug, sending the Rangers to a 4-0 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins that stopped a slide and lifted New York back into first place in the Atlantic Division.
"It is about time. I haven't even been close to a shutout," Lundqvist said. "Just going into the third without any goals felt pretty good to me."
Lundqvist allowed three goals or fewer in 17 of his first 18 outings this season, but gave up 13 overall in his past three -- at least four in each game. He sat out Saturday at Washington after getting sick before the game.
With his 27-save effort against the slumping Penguins, Lundqvist (20-11-3) became the fifth NHL goalie to start with four 20-win seasons. He has 18 career shutouts and is the fourth Rangers goalie to post four consecutive 20-win seasons.
"He is just a great, great goaltender," coach Tom Renney said. "He'll go down in history as one of the great Rangers. No question."
New York, 1-for-17 with the man advantage during a 1-3-1 slide, got power-play goals from Nigel Dawes and defenseman Paul Mara and jumped over idle New Jersey and Philadelphia to regain the first-place position they held all season until last weekend.
"Every time we play them, we get excited for it. We want to shut them down like we did," Mara said of the Penguins. "If we play like we did tonight -- penalty kill, power play, 5-on-5 -- we should get our fair share of wins here in the second half."
Pittsburgh is in a free-fall. The defending Eastern Conference champions have dropped five straight, six of seven, and seven of nine to fall below the playoff cutoff halfway through the season. They have only eight goals in seven games.
"I don't think you ever expect not to score," Crosby said. "Was it lack of effort? No. It happens in hockey sometimes. You run into tough nights, and we're there right now. We've got to find a way to put it in."
Lundqvist earned his ninth victory against Pittsburgh in 13 games. He stopped all 12 shots in the Penguins' power-play filled first period and eight more in the second. He also got help from the goal posts.
His best save came against Malkin, who raced in on a 2-on-0 rush with Petr Sykora and ripped a rising drive that Lundqvist knocked aside with his left shoulder. He denied Crosby late in the second period on the doorstep, and the frustrated Pittsburgh captain smacked his stick against the glass.
"He is not the best shooter, but he is a smart shooter," Lundqvist said. "His strength is not to beat you with a shot, but more to trick you."
Crosby heard boos and derisive chants all night and was called for two penalties one game after taking 21 minutes -- including his second NHL fight -- in a 6-1 loss to Florida on Saturday.
"Whether the opposing fans are trying to rub it in or not, losing is not fun," Crosby said. "I wouldn't expect anything different here, to be honest."
The Penguins were 0-for-24 on the power play in their previous six games and failed on all eight chances against the Rangers -- including five in the first period when they fell behind 1-0. Pittsburgh had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:59 that generated only one shot.
"The 5-on-3 was huge," forward Jordan Staal said. "We needed to score on that one."
Dawes wasted no time in helping the Rangers take the lead, scoring his seventh of the season in his 100th NHL game. Maxime Talbot went off for boarding Ryan Callahan 31 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Dawes converted at 1:00. His shot from the left circle hit the stick shaft of Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi and found its way between Marc-Andre Fleury's pads.
After Pittsburgh was given a power play in the second period, Crosby wiped it out only two seconds in when he interfered with Blair Betts on the ensuing faceoff.
The Rangers made the most of their second two-second power play of the middle frame when Mara ripped in a drive at 17:27 after Gomez cleanly won a faceoff.
Drury made it 3-0, scoring his 11th of the season with 7:30 left.
"It was probably our most complete game of the year," Drury said.
- Pittsburgh has lost eight consecutive regular-season games in New York (0-5-3).
- The Penguins are 4-for-14 on two-man advantages this season.
- Dawes has three goals and three assists in five games.
- Pittsburgh has gone five games without a point for the first time since 2006.