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Lundqvist defends flipping net: ‘I’m not gonna apologize'

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Henrik Lundqvist has no regrets about knocking the net over during Thursday's loss to the Penguins.Gene J. Puskar/AP

Henrik Lundqvist has no regrets about knocking the net over during Thursday’s loss to the Penguins.

When Henrik Lundqvist took an incidental hit from teammate Ryan McDonagh in Pittsburgh on Thursday, he was not ready to continue playing. He expected a whistle but didn’t get one from the referee, and so rather than put himself in harm’s way, he did the only thing that he could think of to stop play: Throw the net off its moorings.

Lundqvist, who suffered neck spasms from the hit but is feeling better and anticipates returning to game action this weekend, said Monday the referee asked him if he was OK and that he perhaps waited too long to say he wasn’t. The goaltender then tried to get the official’s attention, but play had gone to the other end of the ice. His stick was in the corner but he didn’t retrieve it because he didn’t feel well enough to continue.

“When I realized the puck is in our end, I was not really ready to play. That was the truth,” Lundqvist said. “I don’t know how I came up with the conclusion to move the net, but that’s what came up in my head, and I’m not gonna apologize for it because I was just not in a position where I could play the game. I needed a break.”

The Rangers netminder was called for a delay-of-game penalty at 6:17 of the second, and after getting a few moments to shake off the hit, he played the rest of the second period. It wasn’t until the second intermission when his adrenaline wore off that he felt he needed to come out of the game, which he did.

Lundqvist said he heard of Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fleury’s “baby stuff” comment regarding Lundqvist’s actions but didn’t offer a retort.

“All I can say is I was not in position where I could play the game,” said Lundqvist, who was upset he received a penalty after being left in a precarious situation. “I needed a whistle. If the ref’s not gonna give me one I’m gonna deal with it my way. Could I have done it differently? Absolutely. But at the same time it was a really tough hit where I was not really thinking straight, I think. But I got the whistle.”

Lundqvist worked with Chris Kreider and assistant coaches Benoit Allaire and Darryl Williams before Monday’s practice started, taking some shots before departing when practice officially started. The Rangers (38-22-6, 82 points) play in Buffalo Tuesday and have a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday in Detroit and at home against the Penguins.

He’ll stay behind in New York Tuesday to work with Rick Nash, who skated Monday with the team wearing a red non-contact jersey for the first time since suffering a bad left-leg bone bruise on Jan. 22. Both he and Alain Vigneault didn’t rule out a weekend return. … Marc Staal (back spasms) and Dylan McIlrath (knee) both missed practice and are both out Tuesday. The Rangers will call up a defenseman before Tuesday’s game. Brady Skjei ostensibly is the leading candidate for recall.

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