Henrik Lundqvist, who was sidelined for the second straight game with neck spasms, might be ready for the next one in Buffalo tomorrow.
“He’s feeling better, still not 100 percent, but is on the right track,” Rangers coach Alain Vig neault said. “There’s still some pain in the neck, still day-to-day. His movements still aren’t fully fluid, so it’ll take a day or two.”
A collision with Ryan McDonagh in Pittsburgh felled the team’s No. 1 goaltender, who has appeared in 51 games. He was on the ice Sunday, taking shots from goaltender coach Benoit Allaire, but left before the team’s morning skate and was not made available to the media.
Backup Antti Raanta, who stepped in for Lundqvist at the start of the third period in the 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, started his second straight game and third in the last four.
Magnus Hellberg was recalled from AHL Hartford and served as backup.
Nash practicing soon?
Rick Nash, sidelined with a left leg injury since Jan. 22, could join the team for practice soon and perhaps will be paired on a line with Eric Staal.
“It’s something I am juggling with in my mind,” Vig neault said. “We’ve got some combinations that have been fairly successful, [but] I could use him with Eric, and that could make it more challenging for the opposition as far as who they’re going to match up against. I’m assuming at some point this week, he’ll join the team and practice. Once we get everybody playing, I’ll figure that out.”
Nash skated on his own Sunday and Staal centered the third line for the fourth straight game. He had two points and won 20 of 22 faceoffs.
Marc Staal out
Defenseman Marc Staal missed the game, locked up by back spasms that also kept him out of the Feb. 23 Devils game. “He came in this morning and could barely move,” Vigneault said. Rookie Dylan McIlrath replaced him but left with what appeared to be a right knee injury after a hit by Cal Clutterbuck at 13:22 of the first period. McIlrath did not return, leaving the Rangers with five defensemen.