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Rangers hope Henrik Lundqvist passes big test Tuesday

Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers makes

Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The next turn in Henrik Lundqvist's detoured season will begin Tuesday when the veteran goaltender participates in his first skate with the Rangers since early February.

Before Tuesday night's game at Madison Square Garden against the Los Angeles Kings, Lundqvist will take shots from players in the morning skate for the first time since Feb. 2, his last game before he was shut down with a serious injury to a blood vessel in his neck.

For the last few weeks, Lundqvist has been working on drills and blocking shots from assistant coaches, so Tuesday will provide a real test of his comfort level.

If all goes well, he will dress for a long practice at the team's training center Wednesday before traveling with the club for a two-game trip to Ottawa and Boston.

It is unclear if he will be ready to return for Saturday's matinee against the Bruins, Sunday's game against the Capitals or neither.

The Rangers, who are one point away from reaching the 100-point mark for the eighth time in franchise history, have 11 regular-season games left. If Lundqvist, who has missed 23 games, starts against the Capitals at home, it will give him up to eight more games to try to return to form before the postseason begins.

Cam Talbot, who has a remarkable 15-3-3 record in Lundqvist's absence and made 36 saves in the 7-2 roasting of the Ducks on Sunday, is expected to start Tuesday night and presumably against the Senators on Thursday.

Talbot was in goal for the first encounter with the Kings on Jan. 8 in Los Angeles, which the Rangers won, 4-3. The Kings ousted the Rangers in last year's Stanley Cup Final.

For Talbot, who was honored with a standing ovation in the third period Sunday, Tuesday night's start could be his last one at home for a while, but he enjoyed the recognition.

"It means a lot any time the fans are behind you like that," Talbot said. "It's pretty special, in this building especially, to get the support I've been getting. It doesn't go unnoticed. I appreciate them and it does mean a lot."

The Rangers (46-18-7) have allowed two or fewer goals in 10 consecutive games. Although Talbot has been a major element, the penalty kill should be credited as well: It has risen to eighth in the league (20-for-the-last-22, 90.9 percent).

New York Sports