ALL-STAR goaltender Henrik Lundqvist agreed yesterday to a long-term contract extension with the New York Rangers.

Lundqvist, 31, in the final season of a 6-year, $41.25 million deal, agreed to a 7-year contract reportedly worth $59.5 million. His salary-cap charge would rise from $6.875 million to $8.5 million and make him the NHL's highest-paid goalie.

More importantly, it should keep him starring on Broadway for the rest of his career. He is in his ninth NHL season, all with the Rangers.

"About 8 months ago I sat down for the first time with my family and my agent and kind of discussed my future," Lundqvist said after practice. "There were two things that became really clear to me: No. 1 was I really wanted to win the [Stanley] Cup here in New York. It's my biggest goal and my biggest dream and what really pushes me right now to work harder. Secondly, I want to be a Ranger for life.

"To picture myself anywhere else, it was just wrong, and it was never an option."

New York general manager Glen Sather and team owner James Dolan agreed. That helped negotiations go smoothly until they were completed Tuesday.

"There were lots of pieces," Sather said. "This was a very friendly, peaceful, low-key, unemotional decision to be made by everyone. It was fun. I enjoyed it."

With the salary cap projected to rise, one hurdle was cleared.

"A lot of that is speculation, so far. You still have to be careful," Sather said. "We have a cap to deal with; we have other players to sign. It is terrific that Henrik decided to stay here. If he had gone someplace else, I am sure he would've earned more money, but it always isn't money that's a factor. You have to have a competitive team. ''

Lundqvist, a Swedish native, has been a Vezina Trophy finalist as the NHL's top goalie in five of his eight seasons. He is off to a slow start this season, especially by his standards, going 8-11 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 20 games.

Sather now can turn his focus to a slew of other potential free agents, such as captain Ryan Callahan. He said behind-the-scenes talks are already underway.

In games last night

* At Newark, N.J., Lars Ellers and David Desharnais scored in the shootout and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Devils, 4-3.

* At Calgary, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie each had a goal and an assist to lead to Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.