GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Henrik Lundqvist will be in goal Tuesday against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said on Monday.
And then, beginning this weekend when the Rangers begin a stretch of six games in nine nights, Vigneault said he will try to get Lundqvist some rest. Vigneault’s current plan is to give Ondrej Pavelec at least two starts during that six-game stretch.
The Penguins are on a four-game winning streak after struggling some early in the season. The Rangers have won five of their last six, but are entering a tough three-game stretch with the Pittsburgh game followed by another game at Washington on Friday and then a home game the next night against the Devils at Madison Square Garden.
“We need to be on top of it,” Lundqvist said. “This week is a great challenge for us.”
Lundqvist said there can be no let down against the Penguins.
“They are a great team even though they have had a lot of ups and downs this year,” he said. “This last stretch they have been picking up their game and you really have to respect their speed and skill. They have smart players who can create stuff out of nothing. I feel like the top guys out there can make some big plays at crucial times of the game.”
Added Marc Staal: “It’s a great team and a hard place to play. So, I think we’re all excited for it. We get to play against some of the elite players in the game. It always brings out the best in them . . . I think we’re playing well. We’ve gained a lot of confidence as a team game to game. If we’re not at our best, we now if we stick with it we give our chance to win the game.”
Notes & quotes: Mika Zibanejad was at the practice facility and rode the bike, according to Vigneault. Zibanejad has missed two games with a concussion that he suffered against Detroit the day after Thanksgiving. Vigneault did not give a timetable for his return and said he was still following the concussion protocol. “It’s day by day how he feels,” Vigneault said.