GREENBURGH, N.Y. - He's back.
Henrik Lundqvist confirmed on Wednesday that he will back up Cam Talbot for Thursday night's game in Ottawa against the Senators. Lundqvist, who has been sidelined since Feb. 2 with a blood vessel injury in his neck, participated in a full team practice Wednesday.
"I'm very happy with the amount of work he got today and how he looked in goal," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of Lundqvist. "He looked real sharp. It's good to have him back."
The door was open to Lundqvist's return to the ice Wednesday morning when the team assigned rookie goaltender Mackenzie Skapski to Hartford. Vigneault said he will decide Friday whether Lundqvist will start on Saturday when the Rangers play at Boston.
Talbot has had quite a run while Lundqvist has been on the mend. Without Lundqvist the Rangers are 17-4-3. Vigneault made it clear, however, that though Talbot will get some playing time, he's not planning to platoon the two down the stretch.
"There's no doubt that Cam has done extremely well for us," Vigneault said. "Your question is a valid one considering how well he's played. But if you look at the body of work that Hank has done for his team over the years, there's no doubt he's our No. 1 guy. And moving forward he will be our No. 1 guy."
Vigneault said he decided to activate Lundqvist for Thursday night's game so he can warm up with the team and get back into a routine.
Lundqvist took shots from players for the first time before Tuesday's game. Wednesday was his first full team practice in more than two months, and he said he was happy with how he felt on the ice.
"It was fun. It was long. I do feel every day is definitely a step in the right direction, I feel more and more comfortable," he said. "I'm reading the guys better. A lot of it is patience. You want to stop the pucks so badly sometimes you tend to make the first moves. I'm working on that right now, being patient and reading the shots.
"I've been skating for four or five weeks at least. I don't feel any different day to day. Maybe it's more being comfortable, seeing the shots, and speed. Physically I feel the same every day. I feel I'm in a pretty good spot with my energy level and my legs."
Notes & quotes: Vigneault hopes that Martin St. Louis will be one of the shooters on the ice when Lundqvist faces some shots at the morning skate Thursday. St. Louis has been out since March 14 after suffering a lower-body injury. This would be his first time back on the ice . . . Marc Staal had a maintenance day and did not practice.