72° Good Afternoon
72° Good Afternoon

Backup goalie Antti Raanta ready to go, likely to play in Edmonton

Antti Raanta of the New York Rangers looks

Antti Raanta of the New York Rangers looks on as the Vancouver Canucks celebrate a second-period goal at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

CALGARY — That knock on the head in Antti Raanta’s last game in goal hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm — or his schedule.

“I feel good,” said Raanta, who is expected to start against the Oilers on Sunday in the team’s first visit to Rogers Place, which opened in Edmonton in September, replacing aging Northlands Coliseum.

In his previous start on Tuesday, Raanta’s night was interrupted when he was ordered off the ice by the NHL’s concussion-spotters after the back of his head struck the ice at Madison Square Garden after taking a hit from Canucks forward Markus Granlund at 4:27 of the third period.

Having passed the concussion protocol, Raanta returned to a 4-2 deficit when the Canucks scored twice on reliever Henrik Lundqvist. “You have to respect the rules,” Raanta said, but like other teammates, wondered why Lundqvist wasn’t allowed to see a few shots in a short warmup.

At any rate, Raanta, who stopped 20 of 22 shots Tuesday, will be ready for his fifth start in the second half of this back-to-back. The 27-year-old Finn (3-0-0, 2.32 goals-against-average, .926 save percentage) also started five games in October and November last season, but is on track to play more this month because Vigneault wants to use both goalies in a more condensed schedule. The Rangers will play eight more times in the next 16 days.

The Oilers aren’t totally unfamiliar to Raanta: Last Dec. 11 in Edmonton, he stopped two of three shots after taking over for Lundqvist in a 7-5 loss. With Chicago, he started against Edmonton twice, first on Jan. 9, 2015, a 5-2 loss, and on Jan. 12, 2014, he helped defeat the Oilers 5-3 at United Center.

Clendening might play

Spare defenseman Adam Clendening, who notched an assist while replacing Dan Girardi in the second game of the back-to-back last Sunday against Winnipeg in a 5-2 win, might play again in Edmonton. Coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday that he had not decided. Clendening played 20 games for the Oilers last season.


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