The New York Rangers could have a difficult decision to make regarding their starting goalie for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.
Henrik Lundqvist was the surprise starter in Game 1 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Saturday because rookie Igor Shesterkin was ruled unfit to play Friday night.
Shesterkin was scheduled to start, but Lundqvist made 34 saves in a 3-2 loss to open the best-of-5 series.
Shesterkin, who watched the game from the stands, is day to day. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
“We’re not sure if he’ll be ready for Game 2,” coach David Quinn said.
Shesterkin’s chances of being able to play Monday (Noon ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS, FS-CR, MSG) likely will be determined Sunday. The Rangers are scheduled to practice at 10 a.m. ET. If Shesterkin doesn’t practice, he likely won’t play.
Shesterkin was 10-2-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 12 starts after being called up from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Jan. 7.
Lundqvist went 10-12-3 with a 3.16 GAA and a .905 save percentage in 30 games (26 starts) this season, his 15th in the NHL, all with the Rangers. He went 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and a .947 save percentage in three games against the Hurricanes this season and entered with strong numbers in 46 games against them (33-12-1, 2.00, .934).
“I feel for Igor and we’ll see what happens here in the next couple of days, but I’m just happy I got an opportunity to play,” said Lundqvist, who made his 128th consecutive postseason start for New York. “I enjoy it. I enjoy being out there to compete. Obviously, we didn’t get the win, but I think we did a lot of good things. We’ll watch some video, learn from this and I’m sure we’ll be better for the next one.”
The other option for the Rangers is Alexandar Georgiev, who was the backup to Lundqvist on Saturday. He was 17-14-2 with a 3.04 GAA and a .910 save percentage this season but did not play in the four games against Carolina.
Lundqvist said he felt good Saturday and is prepared to start Game 2. He made 11 saves in the first period and 10 in the second, including stopping Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele on a breakaway at 5:37. He made 13 saves in the third period.
“I take every start as an opportunity to play the game, enjoy the game and try to help the team,” Lundqvist said. “I felt like I was moving well. There’s a couple of things that I need to adjust for next game if I get an opportunity to play. We’ll see.
“Physically, technically and mentally I’m in a good place.”