OTTAWA - Henrik Lundqvist, who will be on the bench to back up Cam Talbot on Thursday night against the Senators, knows he'll get a long-awaited start during the weekend.

"I'm getting real excited to play," said Lundqvist, who officially was removed from the Rangers' long-term injured reserve Thursday before facing shots from Chris Kreider, Marty St. Louis and two assistant coaches for about 45 minutes at Canadian Tire Center. "Just a few days away. I've never been so excited to go to a morning skate. It's the longest break I've had in my career."

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Lundqvist (25-11-3, with a 2.25 GAA and .922 save percentage) had not dressed for 24 games. The 33-year-old has been out since Feb. 2 with a serious blood vessel injury to his neck after being struck in the throat by a shot on Jan. 31. His first full practice with the team was on Wednesday in Greenburgh, New York.

After the skate, Lundqvist said that he and head coach Alain Vigneault would discuss the upcoming schedule Friday. That will determine whether he plays Saturday afternoon in Boston or at home against the Capitals on Sunday. "It's hard to say no to a game when you've been away for that long," he said.

During the skate, one wrister from Kreider from the right circle caught Lundqvist in the helmet, but he shrugged it off.

"You have to be ready for it," he said with a laugh. "It's good to get a couple [in the head] to know it's working. I'm not asking for it, but it's good to get tested ... I'm ready."