Henrik Lundqvist practices, but Rangers not sure he'll play Game 2

PITTSBURGH -- New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist returned to practice Friday after being poked in the eye area by a teammate's stick in Game 1 of the team's first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Lundqvist remains a game-time decision for Game 2 on Saturday. If he plays, it would mark the 112th straight playoff start for Lundqvist, a streak that began in 2006.

Although Lundqvist took part in Friday's practice, coach Alain Vigneault would not go as far as announcing Lundqvist as his Game 2 starter.

"Everybody wants to see how he's going to react to the strain of the practice," Vigneault told reporters after Friday's session at the Consol Energy Center.

Lundqvist was struck near the eye by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal's stick with less than a minute to go in the first period of Wednesday's game. After being attended to by trainers, Lundqvist returned to the net and allowed the first goal of the game with 17.6 seconds remaining.

During the first intermission, Lundqvist told the team's medical staff he was having trouble with his vision, and he did not return for the final two periods. Antti Raanta replaced him, allowing three goals in the Rangers' 5-2 loss.

Lundqvist visited a specialist Thursday and said he was relieved to be informed that there was no damage to his right eye. The swelling around it had subsided enough that Lundqvist could take part in a normal practice Friday.

"We're taking it day-by-day here, but the practice was good," the netminder said. "But I'm very pleased with the way it felt."

Vigneault acknowledged that it would be a huge morale boost to have the former Vezina Trophy winner back in goal.

"I believe our team plays well in front of both our goaltenders," the coach said. "But there is a definite bonus in the fact that Hank has won so many big games for this team and this organization. If he can play tomorrow, it'll have a positive impact, there's no doubt in my mind."

Lundqvist said he initially feared that the injury he suffered might be serious.

"The way the stick hit me, I'm just very happy," he told reporters Friday. "I had some really bad thoughts going through my head. It was very scary, actually. Everything just happened so fast."

"It was such a weird feeling. It was extremely painful, but at the same time, you go numb a little bit."

In other lineup news, struggling defenseman Dan Girardi did not skate Friday and will not play Saturday. His place in the lineup is expected to be taken by Dylan McIlrath.

Vigneault did say there was a possibility that a defenseman would be called up from AHL affiliate Hartford as insurance.

Vigneault would not describe the nature of Girardi's injury. Without him, the team has six healthy defensemen.