WASHINGTON - Henrik Lundqvist, who will start the Rangers' regular-season finale at Verizon Center on Saturday, said Friday that he is "kind of surprised" that his left knee is fine.
Translation: It could have been worse.
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In the first period against Ottawa on Thursday night, Mika Zibanejad fell on Lundqvist, who was on his back, and landed heavily on the knee, causing Lundqvist to clutch the leg and roll over in pain. He was able to finish the game.
"I've had that happen to me before; usually you're sore for a week or so," said Lundqvist, who will be shooting for his 30th victory.
Lundqvist, who missed two months with a vascular injury in his neck, will play his seventh game since he was cleared to return. He's itching for the postseason.
"Normally, at this time of year, even if you'd be a little bit tired, you try not to think about it. I can't wait to get going," he said. "There's a lot of good teams who've missed the playoffs. I'm glad we put ourselves in this spot."
If the Rangers beat Alex Ovechkin & Co., they will set a franchise record with their 53rd victory. The Rangers won 52 games in 1993-94, when they captured the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup.
As the regular season reaches its final day, the Capitals are not one of the Rangers' potential first-round opponents. Starting in 2009, that matchup occurred three times in five seasons: They fell to the Capitals in seven games that April, lost in five games in 2011 and edged them in seven in 2013.
The Rangers will be without several banged-up players Saturday and could have as many as four non-regulars in the lineup. Kevin Klein, whose arm was broken by Ovechkin's wrist shot on March 11, remains out, and Marc Staal, who has been playing through a nagging lower-body injury and sat out Thursday night's game, "is a definite 'no' for Saturday,'' coach Alain Vigneault said on Friday.
Vigneault believes that the two defensemen will practice early next week and hopes they can be ready for Game 1. Matt Hunwick and Chris Summers will replace them on Saturday.
Mats Zuccarello, who was rested with an unidentified injury for two games, and Rick Nash, who sat out the loss to Ottawa, will be game-time decisions. "If they can," Vigneault said, "they will."