The King is back.
After missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will start Monday night's home opener against Montreal at Madison Square Garden.
"I like the way I felt today," Lundqvist said Sunday after the team's first practice at the stylishly revamped arena. "It was the best I've felt since I got hurt [in Los Angeles on Oct. 8]."
During the last three practices, Lundqvist said, "every day I felt a little bit better. I've gotten the answers I wanted in the last couple days. Today it was more about pushing yourself real hard and get the speed and timing. I'm excited to play. It's been a long way for us and it's finally here."
Lundqvist, who hasn't played since Oct. 20, said he will not feel limited in any way and was driven to be ready for Monday night. "Every game you sit out, it gets tougher and tougher not to try to push the process," he said.
After a preseason and early regular-season schedule that kept his team away from home longer than he'd ever experienced -- including when he coached in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics -- Alain Vigneault, who spoke with Lundqvist privately on the ice, later confirmed the goalie's return.
Lundqvist, who has a 2-4 record and an .890 save percentage, said he no longer will worry about his ailment, which is believed to be a lower-body injury, and can "just concentrate on stopping shots."
Lundqvist, who hasn't played since a 4-0 loss to the Devils in Newark, during which he allowed two stoppable goals and said the blame for the team's poor run "starts with me," also did not rule out playing against the Islanders back-to-back Tuesday in Uniondale but added that it will be Vigneault's call.
Vigneault also could go with Cam Talbot, who allowed only four goals in the past two games. Jason Missiaen was returned to Hartford.
Every Ranger seemed pleased to be home, where the team will play seven of the next nine games and will perform in front of a welcoming crowd.
"We'll get some energy off that," said Brad Richards, the club's leading goal-scorer with five. "We played in three home openers for other teams. But we've got to realize it's still going to be tough."
Derick Brassard, who scored the overtime winner in Detroit, said the 3-6 start cannot be overlooked: "Expectations are higher. We need to get to .500 and go from there."
Notes & quotes: Ryan Callahan, who suffered a broken thumb against Washington on Oct. 16 and is expected to miss three to four weeks, skated before practice for the first time.