Call it a double play for Henrik Lundqvist.
Rather than roll the dice and deploy backup Cam Talbot, who is untested outdoors, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will start the veteran goaltender against the Islanders in the second game of the Yankee Stadium series Wednesday night.
After all, Lundqvist appeared more together in the second and third periods Sunday, stopping all 12 Devils shots in the 7-3 win, and is 27-12-5, with five shutouts and a 2.12 goals-against average against the Islanders.
Having 60 minutes' experience on the temporary rink in the Bronx "is definitely not going to hurt," Vigneault said. "I think the individual it might help the most is Hank -- to get the bearings. The fact that people aren't behind [the glass] and the fact that he's had the opportunity to have a practice and play a game should help him. We all saw how challenging it was for the goaltenders at the beginning there."
The Rangers, (28-23-3), who have won seven of the last 10, are treating the match as a road game, with a morning practice in Westchester and day rooms at a hotel near the stadium, and Lundqvist isn't taking the Islanders, who have lost three straight, lightly.
"We can feel now we're going down the stretch and the points are getting more and more important," said Lundqvist, who may add another clothing layer to keep warmer in the nighttime cold. "And this is a team, they fought back in the standings, so they're coming to play . . . If you make mistakes, they're pretty quick to make you pay for them, especially their top line. You have to play them hard and you have to play them smart. We have to match their urgency and desperation out there and try to enjoy it at the same time."
Neither team has played outdoors at night, so neither should have an advantage when it comes to lighting. "At a baseball stadium, you have a lot more lights coming at you compared to when you play inside and you have the lights coming straight down on the ice," said Lundqvist, who will try to adjust in warm-ups.
Psychologically, the Rangers want to avoid falling into the comfort trap. "We have to make sure there's no letdown from the first game," Dan Girardi said. "We've got to have the same excitement we had going into the first game."