Henrik Lundqvist writhes in pain on the ice after Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad fall on top of his knee.
The unthinkable almost happened in Thursday night’s Rangers regular-season home finale at the Garden, but Henrik Lundqvist thankfully averted disaster in a dreary 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Ottawa’s 6-1, 211-pound center Mika Zibanejad fell on Lundqvist’s left knee in the crease with 6:16 left in the first period, causing Lundqvist — who missed seven weeks from Feb. 4 through March 26 with a partially torn blood vessel in his neck — to grab his knee and writhe on the ice.
Lundqvist rose after being examined by trainer Jim Ramsay, made 24 saves and said his leg was “OK.” It was strange to see Lundqvist remain in a meaningless game for the top overall seed Rangers (52-22-7, 111 points).
“The first couple seconds I wasn’t really sure if it was bad or not,” Lundqvist said. “My leg was fully extended and he landed right on my knee. It took two seconds to make sure it was OK. After a minute or so, I didn’t really feel it. So that’s good news.
“I’ve had that happen before where you get your leg extended,” the goalie added. “But it seems like it’s pretty good. I didn’t feel it for the rest of the game. The first minute I tried to move it as much as possible and I wanted to wait and see how it felt after the first period, but I didn’t have any soreness or anything like that.”
Coach Alain Vigneault said his plan to start Lundqvist in Saturday afternoon’s regular-season finale in Washington has not changed. What hopefully changes, though, is his team’s management of fundamentals.
Granted, the Rangers had nothing to play for against Ottawa, having already captured the Presidents’ Trophy, which NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly presented before the game to chants of “We want the Cup!”
To rest starters Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Marc Staal, the Rangers recalled and played defenseman Chris Summers and forward Ryan Bourque, son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, for his NHL debut. The Senators (42-26-13, 97 points) had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
But that didn’t excuse an uncharacteristic second period full of simple mistakes and interminable shifts. Kevin Hayes’ line in particular couldn’t get off the ice, thanks to miscues such as a failed Carl Hagelin dump-in that agitated Vigneault.
After Ottawa goalie Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond (26 saves) made a scrambling stop on Hayes, Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris scored a little over a minute apart for a 2-0 lead. Ottawa strangely hadn’t played desperate early, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s empty-netter at 18:21 of the third lifted the Senators into the first wild-card slot in the East.
The Islanders, meanwhile, backed into a playoff berth thanks to Boston’s 4-2 loss in Florida, and Detroit clinched its 24th straight postseason appearance with one point in a 4-3 overtime loss in Montreal. The Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Bruins — currently in ninth — are fighting for the remaining two berths.
The Rangers are already in, but that’s no excuse for getting shut out in their own building.
“We were trying to do the right thing, but we couldn’t really get pressure on them,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “We’d obviously like a better effort.”
At least they have Lundqvuist’s health.
Nash swept this season’s team MVP award, as voted by the media, and the Players’ Player Award, as voted by his teammates. The latter honors the Ranger who “best exemplifies what it means to be a team player.” Nash said the respect of his teammates is most important because “they are the ones who propel players (like me) to individual awards.” . . . Vigneault said defenseman Kevin Klein (broken left arm) will not play Saturday in Washington but should be back for Game 1 of the playoffs’ first round on Thursday. Keeping Klein on long-term injured reserve is allowing the Rangers to use his extra salary-cap space to call up AHL players and rest starters. Klein has not played since March 11.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.