Game 2: RANGERS at PENGUINS
Eastern Conference First Round
TV: 3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
After days of analyzing the Pittsburgh Penguins' goaltending situation, a bulk of the attention has now turned toward the New York Rangers' crease.
The Penguins starting goaltender for Game 2 on Saturday remains unknown, but a 5-2 win secured by Jeff Zatkoff on Wednesday has helped alleviate some pressure. New York, on the other hand, will enter Saturday having lost to Pittsburgh's third-string goaltender and with its own uncertainty at the position.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be a game-time decision Saturday after leaving Game 1 following the first period, having sustained an eye injury.
Video: NYR@PIT, Gm1: Lundqvist shaken up in 1st, later exits
A day after New York coach Alain Vigneault said Lundqvist needed to practice Friday in order to play Saturday, Lundqvist did just that. He was a full participant in the Rangers' Friday practice at Consol Energy Center. "I'm just very happy," said Lundqvist, who had some swelling around his eye. "I feel lucky that nothing bad happened [to his eye]."
With 48.2 seconds remaining in the first on Wednesday, New York defenseman Marc Staal inadvertently poked Lundqvist in the eye with his stick blade. After dropping to the ice for a few minutes and skating to the bench, Lundqvist returned to the crease and surrendered the opening goal to Patric Hornqvist 17.6 seconds before the intermission.
"I feel for him," Zatkoff said. "And I hope that it's nothing serious and that it was maybe just something short-term."
Goalie Antti Raanta replaced Lundqvist and allowed three further goals in a frustrating Game 1 loss for the Rangers.
New York controlled much of the first period, but couldn't crack Zatkoff, who stopped each of the 12 shots he faced in the period. Hornqvist's late goal gave Pittsburgh a spark it carried into the second period and to a 1-0 series lead.
The Rangers are in danger of dropping two games behind early in this series, facing a situation similar to the Penguins a few days ago.
"[Lundqvist is] our leader," Rangers forward J.T. Miller said. "We need him to be healthy … It was a scary moment. You definitely don't want to see that."
Rangers team scope: Lundqvist has started 111 consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs games for New York dating back to April 26, 2006, against the New Jersey Devils. His 112 playoff appearances with the Rangers are tied for the fifth most by a goalie with one franchise in NHL history, behind Martin Brodeur with the Devils (205), Patrick Roy with the Colorado Avalanche (133), Billy Smith with the New York Islanders (132) and Roy with the Montreal Canadiens (114). Defenseman Dan Girardi, who did not practice Friday, will not play after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Game 1. Defenseman Dylan McIlrath could make his playoffs debut after playing 34 games in his third NHL season. McIlrath was paired with defenseman Keith Yandle in practice Friday.
Penguins team scope: Injured forwards Evgeni Malkin (upper body) and Bryan Rust (lower body) each practiced Friday and skated on the same line. Malkin participated in a full-team practice for the first time since sustaining his injury March 11, which was expected to have him miss six to eight weeks. Friday marked the end of the fifth week since his time of injury. Center Nick Bonino remained between left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Phil Kessel, Malkin's former linemates, during practice. Left wing Conor Sheary joined Malkin and Rust. Malkin also worked on Pittsburgh's top power-play unit with Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Kris Letang and Kessel. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury skated for a fifth time this week, including during the morning skate on Wednesday, but did not update his status. Malkin, Fleury, Rust, forward Beau Bennett and goalie Matthew Murray each remain day-to-day, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. Before making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut on Wednesday, Zatkoff received a text message from Fleury on Tuesday night, informing him he would start Game 1. Zatkoff said he would welcome a similar text to let him know whether he will play Saturday, but will be prepared to start regardless. "We'll see if we hear anything or what happens," Zatkoff said. "But if not, I'm just going to prepare like I'm playing and kind of have that same mindset, incase the team needs me to go and I can get the job done."