For Rangers' fans, Wednesday night's Game 1 loss to the Penguins was pretty bad. But it could have been worse.
Those close to the team surmise that Henrik Lundqvist, who left the 5-2 setback in Pittsburgh after the first period with an eye injury, will be back between the pipes Saturday afternoon (a 3 p.m puck drop on NBC).
According to ESPN, Rangers skipperAlain Vigneaultsaid Thursday thatLundqvist had swelling around his right eye and was scheduled to see a specialist. But he did make sure to point out that Lundqvist's injury isn't "too serious."
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The veteran goalie made his 111th consecutive playoff start Wednesday and his Rangers teammates and fans know that if he can go, he will go Saturday. The extra day of rest (most teams have just one day in between playoff games) is certainly a positive in New York's favor.
And that has to be a confidence booster to a team that gave up a hat trick to a Penguin who wasn't named Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby to open their trek to repeat as Eastern Conference champions again.
PatricHornqvist netted three goals and an assist in Wednesday's onslaught, beating Rangers back up netminderAntti Raanta, who allowed all but one of the Penguins' goals.
Some better work on the blue line, paired with Lundqvist in net would give the Rangers a good chance to win Game 2 before things shift back to Madison Square Garden. But neither are guarantees.
The Rangers will also need to locate their offense. They looked stifled by Pittsburgh third string goalieJeff Zatkoffwho stepped in and looked like a pro stopping35 New York shots (with rookie standout Matt Murray andMarc-Andre Fleuryboth unable to start).
"You just have to make sure you're staying ready in case the team needs you and finding you times to get on the ice to get those shots and get that work," Zatkoff said. "Obviously not the circumstances you want to come in."
The Rangers could have success if they continue to ride the hot hand in the offensive zone -- who happens to be Derek Stepan.Stepan has six goals in his last six games including last night and a lack of spark on offense could put New York in a deep 0-2 hole.
As insurance for a lingering Lundqvist injury, the Rangers have recalled Magnus Hellbergjust in case they need a backup for Raanta. The young goalie played in53 games with Hartford, and hasa 30-20-3 record and a 2.40 GAA. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 20.