Could it be time for Chad Johnson to play in his sixth NHL game on Sunday in Pittsburgh?
We’ll know more on Saturday.
“The only thing will be to check how much I can move and how much it hurts,” said Henrik Lundqvist, battered when he was run over by Benoit Pouliot in the third period. “Hopefully I wake up with no pain. My goal is to play Sunday.”
Johnson, 24, has been the backup for Lundqvist since Martin Biron was felled by a shot in practice that broke his collarbone on Feb. 28. Johnson, 24, was summoned from the AHL on March 2.
The 6-3, 200-pound netminder, acquired from Pittsburgh for a fifth-round selection on entry draft day in 2009, was 1-2-1 last season with a 2.35 GAA.
Vinny Prospal is blazing. The 35-year-old winger, who didn’t play his first game until Feb. 3 after knee surgery, had a power play goal and assist to extend his point streak to eight games, (2-8-10) a season-high for the team. Marian Gaborik had an eight game streak that ended on Nov. 25, 2009.
“He doesn’t have much of a shot, but it’s his passing,” said John Tortorella, who has know Prospal for years. “You can tell where’s he’s at right now. Vinny’s infectious and he’s the type of guy to put pressure on a teammate.”
Now 17-16-3 at home, the Rangers have won three straight at the Garden. They have five more home games to play in the regular season. They have scored six or more goals in each of those last three: beating the Flyers 7-0, the Islanders 6-3 and the Canadiens 6-3 tonight.
“That was a great start, obviously,” said Dan Girardi, who scored his first goal since Dec. 16 against Phoenix in the first period on a high one-timer from above the right faceoff circle and his assist on Vinny Prospal’s final goal was his 30th point of the season, a career-high. He also played a game high 28:03, had four hits and three blocked shots. “It was really electric (at the Garden) tonight, that helped us out. There were some big hits, trapping in front, it’s the kind of hockey we have to play.” Partner Marc Staal had two assists and left briefly for three stitches after Girardi inadvertently caught him with a high stick.
The three goals in 1:07 (Callahan, Gaborik, Boyle) were the fastest trio for the Blueshirts since three in 65 seconds on Nov. 8, 2001 in Uniondale. The scorers then: Theo Fleury, Brian Leetch and Sandy McCarthy. . . Artem Anisimov (seven points in six games) made perhaps the prettiest individual move of the night, a double-deke and backhander after blocking a shot and streaking in on a breakway at 5:28 of the first for his 17th goal. . . Marian Gaborik scored his fourth goal in four games. . . Brian Boyle’s goal gave him 21 on the season, tied for the second on the team. . . Brandon Dubinsky won 13 of 17 faceoffs. “The energy in the building was as good as it’s been all year,” Dubinsky said. “We are healthy and we have a lot of guys contributing right now.”…The Rangers had 31 shots (Callahan had 7) and scored five times on the first 12.
Brandon Prust fought Travis Moen as soon as the puck dropped. “I thought Prusty set the tone,” said Callahan. “It is playoff hockey right now and we can’t afford to have a letup.”
Prust’s challenge “wasn’t something we talked about,” said coach John Tortorella. “The building was alive. It’s a huge play to start. I’ve told him not to fight at times. High marks to Moen, too.” Prust also recorded an assist on Boyle’s goal.