GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Henrik Lundqvist didn’t look like a man who was back at work on Monday after a relaxing week off. Rather, he looked more like a guy who was just happy to get back in the lineup after being forced to sit and watch while understudy Alexandar Georgiev started three games in a row.
Lundqvist will be back in goal Tuesday when the Rangers host Columbus at the Garden.
“That’s why we’re here, right? To be out there with the team,’’ Lundqvist said after Monday’s practice. “Ten games to go. We’ve got to make the most of this stretch here . . . Just keep building. Nobody knows who’s going to be here next year, but right now, let’s make the most of it as a group and we’ll see how many wins we end up with in the end.’’
Tuesday’s game will be the 36-year-old Swede’s first appearance since March 10, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Panthers in Florida that was his 800th NHL career game. That made him the all-time leader in games for a goaltender born outside North America and the 15th goalie overall to reach 800 games. He is the ninth Ranger — and first Rangers goalie — to reach the plateau.
None of which means anything to Lundqvist at the moment. Right now, he is focusing on playing his best every time he gets the call and helping the Rangers (32-32-8) win as many games as they can.
During the week when he wasn’t starting, Lundqvist said he took the “opportunity’’ to work harder in practice than he usually would at this time of year.
“Game days, morning skates, you can push yourself, because you’re not concerned about saving energy,’’ he said. “When you play more, you have to think twice about how much time you spend out there. When you’re not playing, you go until you can’t breathe.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault reiterated that the Rangers need to see as much as they can of Georgiev so they can make informed decisions about his future with the team.
“Obviously, Hank wants to play,’’ Vigneault said. “But like I said before, we’ve got to get a feel for what Alex can do, and that’s what we’re going to do here. We’ve got 10 games left. [Georgiev’s] definitely going to play again.’’
Notes & quotes: Vigneault said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (knee surgery) skated before practice and felt fine afterward . . . Backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec (knee) practiced with the team for the first time, but Vigneault said he is not yet cleared to play. He wouldn’t say if Pavelec will play again this season and added, “I think, right now, until Pavs is cleared to play, it’s not an issue.’’