On Sunday night, Henrik Lundqvist will make his first start for the New York Rangers since suffering a hip injury on March 7.
The Rangers certainly hope he’s rested as he gets an immediate test tonight, as the Rangers continue their California tour with a tilt against the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks (9:00, MSG).
The Rangers (46-25-4) saw their magic numbers to clinch a playoff spot shrink to two last night, as they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at Staples Center. Antti Raanta capped off a solid stretch of fill-in duty for Lundqvist, picking up his fourth shutout of the season with 30 saves. Derek Stepan had a goal in the second period, while Ryan McDonagh added another on a third period power play before Rick Nash wrapped things up with an empty netter.
Meanwhile, the Ducks (40-23-11) appear to be getting hot at just the right time, using a 5-0-1 stretch, including an active three-game winning streak, to position themselves in a tie with San Jose and Edmonton for first place in the Pacific. Anaheim helped their case with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night, with Andrew Cogliano breaking a 1-1 tie in the second before Jakob Silfverberg put the game away in the third.
This is the second of the yearly pair between the Rangers and Ducks this season, with the Rangers winning part one on February 7 by a 4-1 final. Michael Grabner scored a pair of third period goals, while Oscar Lindberg and Mats Zuccarello added the other Ranger tallies. Lundqvist made 43 saves in victory.
With a win of any kind tonight, the Rangers clinch their seventh consecutive playoff berth.