New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist believes he will return to game action later this week after recovering from a vascular injury.
Lundqvist practiced with his teammates on Tuesday for the first time in seven weeks. He hasn't played since Feb. 2, two days after being hit in the throat by a shot in the second period of a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"It's been a long wait for me to get out there," said Lundqvist on Tuesday. "I feel like I'm really close to where I need to be. I'm pretty close to being ready."
Lundqvist was cleared to return to practice last week and has been skating, but took part in a full workout with the team prior to Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. He wasn't in the lineup for Tuesday's contest, but could play later this week.
The Rangers visit Ottawa on Thursday, then travel to Boston on Saturday before returning home for a Sunday game against Washington.
"I'm expecting to play this week, but when, I'm not sure," Lundqvist added. "I've been waiting for so long now to come out and practice and I want to play. I miss the game so much."
Lundqvist actually remained in the game after taking the shot to the throat against the Hurricanes and played two days later in a 6-3 win over Florida, but didn't dress the following night and has been out of action ever since.
The Rangers, entering Tuesday's game, have a record of 17-3-3 since Lundqvist went down and have moved to the top of the Metropolitan Division while also challenging for the best record in the NHL.
Cam Talbot has started all but two games during Lundqvist's absence, posting a record of 15-3-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average in 21 games.
Lundqvist has a mark of a 25-11-3 with five shutouts and a 2.25 GAA in 39 games this season.