PITTSBURGH (AP) - The New York Rangers don’t think goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s freak eye injury will keep him out indefinitely. Still, coach Alain Vigneault isn’t sure Lundqvist will be ready in time for Game 2 of New York’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Lundqvist left Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss after the first period when teammate Marc Staal’s stick somehow slipped inside the bars on Lundqvist’s mask, sending Lundqvist writhing to the ice in pain. Backup Antti Raanta surrendered three goals on 19 shots over the final 40 minutes as the Rangers fell into a 1-0 deficit in the best-of-seven.
Lundqvist was scheduled to meet with an eye specialist later Thursday. The team recalled goaltender Magnus Hellberg from Hartford of the American Hockey League as a precaution.
“At this time, we don’t feel it’s anything too serious,” stated Vigneault. “There’s a little bit of swelling near the eye and around the eye.”
Lundqvist made his franchise-record 111th consecutive postseason start on Wednesday, but that streak was thrown into jeopardy after Staal’s jousting in front of the New York net ended with his stick getting to they aren’t designed to go. Vigneault said Lundqvist had difficulty seeing out of his right eye during the first intermission, forcing Vigneault to send Raanta out in his place.
Raanta played well when filling in for Lundqvist this season, going 11-6-2 with a 2.25 goals against average. The three goals he allowed on Wednesday included a breakaway by Sidney Crosby and a shorthanded 2-on-1. Raanta will get the start if Lundqvist can’t go, with Hellberg taking over as the backup.
The 25-year-old Hellberg has appeared in two NHL games, including a lackluster period against Washington on Dec. 20 in mop-up duty. Hellberg posted 30-20-3 record, along with a 2.40 GAA in 53 games in Hartford.
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