The Rangers were not completely there in a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They lost their most important player for the game, and possibly longer.
The Rangers don’t yet know the status of goalie Henrik Lundqvist for Game 2 on Saturday. Lundqvist left Game 1 after the 1st period with an apparent right eye injury. Coach Alain Vigneault said he would be reevaluated Thursday.
“You just have to learn to deal with it,” defenseman Marc Staal said.
Scoring Summary: NYR 2, PIT 5
3:10 / 3rd : D. Stepan (1) from R. Nash (1), D. Brassard (1)
10:11 / 3rd : D. Stepan (2) from D. Boyle (1), M. Zuccarello (1)
19:42 / 1st : P. Hornqvist (1) from C. Sheary (1), K. Letang (1)
18:56 / 2nd : S. Crosby (1) from P. Hornqvist (1)
5:31 / 3rd : T. Kuhnhackl (1) from N. Bonino (1), K. Letang (2)
8:02 / 3rd : P. Hornqvist (2) from P. Kessel (1), S. Crosby (1)
17:10 / 3rd : P. Hornqvist (3) from S. Crosby (2), T. Daley (1)
Crosby making it look easy:
Antti Raanta, who made 16 saves on 19 shots in relief, said he saw Lundqvist after the game, but they didn’t talk.
Jeff Zatkoff made 35 saves in his first career NHL Playoff start. No.1 Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is out with a concussion and was unable to play after missing the last five games of the regular season. No.2 goalie Matt Murray is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Rangers were prepared to face Fleury, as he practiced Monday and Tuesday and was a full participant in the morning skate Wednesday.
Zatkoff made twelve saves in the first 10 minutes.
New York felt like they just peppered Zatkoff with shots, as they would have a better chance at a goalie who posted a .896 save percentage in his previous five appearances dating back to Jan.18.
The tip of Marc Staal’s stick blade went through a hole in Lundqvist’s mask and appeared to catch the goalie in his right eye. Lundqvist, the backbone of the New York Rangers, was face down on the ice, flailing his legs, as he was clearly in mass amounts of pain.
The Rangers are dealing with injury problems already, with their captain Ryan McDonagh out with a hand injury.
Game 1 was a tough one for the Rangers. Started out not so bad, getting to play against a third-string goalie, peppered him with shots, controlling the play, and dominating. Ended with them wondering if their own goalie, their most valuable player, one of the most important players in franchise history, will be available for the rest of this series.
If he isn’t, they’re in trouble.