NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist would have been at risk for a life-threatening injury if he kept playing with what he called a sprained blood vessel in his throat that was detected Tuesday.
Lundqvist said Sunday he won't be re-evaluated by the doctors for at least 2-3 weeks to see how it's healing, and he can do only light cardio between now and then. He even once referenced a timetable of potentially 3-4 weeks before he is re-evaluated.
"If I would keep playing I'd run a big risk of having a stroke, and that's why you have to make sure you play this one safe because it's not a sore shoulder or elbow or something like that," Lundqvist said prior to the Rangers' game against the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden.
Goalie - NYR
GAA: 2.25 | SVP: .922
The Rangers said on Friday that Lundqvist is expected to miss at least three weeks.
"I won't play until I'm ready to play, and it won't be an issue moving forward after that," Lundqvist said. "I'm going to heal 100 percent."
Lundqvist was injured Jan. 31 when he was struck in the throat by a shot from Carolina Hurricanes forward Brad Malone at 3:02 of the second period. His throat was exposed because Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh's stick accidentally lifted Lundqvist's mask. He stayed in the game despite feeling lightheaded and experiencing headaches.
Lundqvist said he had a stiff neck after the game, but he felt well enough to play against the Florida Panthers on Monday when he made 33 saves in a 6-3 win. He said his headaches returned following that game, which is what prompted him to have tests Tuesday.
Lundqvist said doctors took two scans of his throat area. The sprained blood vessel was detected on the second scan.
"You can't take a risk on this," Lundqvist said. "If it was a sore shoulder I'd probably be playing in a week or something. Here I just have to listen to the doctors because it's that serious. I feel great walking around and doing different things, but you don't want to push this injury as long as it's there. But my plan is to come back and be super excited and ready to play in the last push of the season and the playoffs."
Lundqvist said he has no regrets about staying in the game Saturday or playing Monday in hindsight of the serious nature of his injury and the potential risk.
"I wanted to play and after a few seconds when you start to slowly feel better you know, 'OK, I just need a couple minutes here to regroup and get my focus back,'" Lundqvist said. "After that game, I didn't feel that bad. Sleeping that night my only problem was a really stiff neck, but after the game on Monday that's when I had pretty tough headaches and that's when I talked to the doctors and we did some more checkups."
Lundqvist didn't indicate any concern over his equipment to protect him in the head and throat area.
"The timing was just, of all the spots he could hit me he hit me in the one area that at that second I was not protected," Lundqvist said. "I feel confident with the equipment I have."
Cam Talbot, who started his third consecutive game Sunday, will be the Rangers' No. 1 goalie for as long as Lundqvist is out.
"Cam has been playing really well for the two years he's been here," Lundqvist said. "He's not 21. He's been around. He's played a lot of hockey. We're all confident. We're not second-guessing anything. He's playing really well. The team feels confident with him in net also."