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Henrik Lundqvist on track for return to Rangers

Goaltender likely to play on upcoming road trip beginning this weekend

NHL.com @NHL

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist could return to the New York Rangers net as soon as Saturday when they open a three-game road trip against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, MSG+, NHL.TV).

Lundqvist was a full participant in practice Monday for the first time since straining his hip during a 5-2 win at the Florida Panthers on March 7. He has been skating and working with Rangers goaltending coach Benoit Allaire. 

"Physically I feel great," Lundqvist told the Rangers website. "It's healed well. I feel I have the power that I need. Now it's about getting the timing right and being on top of your game."

Video: Henrik Lundqvist on Return to Practice

Lundqvist will not play at the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG+, NHL.TV) or against the New York Islanders on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV). 

"I would expect him at some point when we go on the California trip," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I know he has been following the medical protocol and has been going through the different stages with [Allaire] on the ice. I talked to [Lundqvist] briefly before practice and he said he was feeling much better. He looked alright. He did most of the practice today and will skate again tomorrow and we will go from there."

New York, which holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, has 10 games remaining in the regular season. 

Lundqvist, 35, is 30-17-2 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .913 save percentage this season. In his absence, Antti Raanta (15-7-1, 2.30 GAA, .921 save percentage) has started the past five games for the Rangers, who have gone 2-2-1.

"Antti's playing well so I think it's more about that right now to try to be out there," Lundqvist said. "But at the same time it's tough because you don't want to push yourself too hard or be out there for too long and risk anything. I think every day here I'm increasing the time on the ice and how hard I go. We'll see in the next couple of days here if it's one or we'll shoot for Saturday."

Vigneault also said defensemen Kevin Klein, who has been out since Feb. 21 because of back spasms, and Dan Girardi, sidelined since Feb. 26 because of an ankle injury, will go on the road trip.

"Both have been cleared medically," Vigneault said. "Klein has been out for so long and [Girardi], you're looking at almost a month. We don't have a lot of practice time with the group so they are skating on their own. ... I think it's just a matter of them feeling that they are up to speed as far as pace and execution. They are both going to come on the trip and we'll see from there."

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