Rangers expecting goalie back

WASHINGTON – The New York Rangers are optimistic they will have their franchise player back for a rally against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said he hopes to be back on the ice for Game 2 today (3 p.m., NBC) after taking a teammate’s stick to the eye Wednesday but avoiding what could have been a catastrophic injury.

“Happy it’s nothing serious,” Lundqvist said. “Probably 20-30 seconds there I had some really bad thoughts going through my head. Very scary, actually. Everything happened so fast.”

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will wait until today to decide whether Lundqvist will make his franchise-record 112th consecutive playoff start or go with backup Antti Raanta. Lundqvist looked sharp during an hour-long practice session Friday, saying there are no apparent issues with his eyesight despite continued swelling.

Injuries have already had a major impact on the two Metropolitan Division series. The Penguins were without their top goaltenders, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray, for Game 1. Fleury, who has been out with a concussion, said he didn’t expect to return today, which would mean another start for No. 3 goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who made 35 saves in his playoff debut.

New York will be without defenseman Dan Girardi because of an undisclosed injury, while Pittsburgh appears closer to getting center Evgeni Malkin back. Malkin practiced Friday, and his presence would be a major boost for the Penguins.

“Anybody who’s injured and starting to practice with the team, it’s encouraging,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “He looks really strong. It’s only a matter of time here.”

AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.