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Thursday, March 15, 2012
Lundqvist out vs. Crosby, Pens

By Katie Strang

The Penguins return their best player Thursday, but the Rangers will be without theirs.

All-star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who missed Tuesday's game against Carolina, is out against Pittsburgh in Sidney Crosby's heralded return.

Lundqvist said he wanted to play against the scorching Pens -- Pittsburgh enters the match on a nine-game winning streak -- but didn't feel quite ready after missing three days with illness.

"Doing nothing laying in bed for two days doesn't do much to help your game," he joked after participating in the Rangers' morning skate.

Lundqvist and the team agreed that giving backup netminder Martin Biron was the right choice against the Rangers' Atlantic Division rivals. Biron will make his second consecutive start after recording his 14th win of the season with a 27-save effort against the Hurricanes two days ago.

"Having Marty playing so well, it doesn't make sense to be selfish," Lundqvist said. "It's the best decision for the team."

Although the irrefutable MVP of a dominant Rangers squad this season, Lundqvist's play dipped slightly during the team's recent struggles. He has given up three or more goals in his last five starts.

Biron, 13-15-5 in 33 games against Pittsburgh, said he'll relish the opportunity to square off against what may be the most dangerous team in the league right now.

"It's big for our club. It's big for everybody here," Biron said. "I think the last few games have been good for us in the team game and in some individual games too....hopefully that keeps going. It is a big stage and a big opportunity for the club."

In addition to Lundqvist's absence, the Rangers will also be without captain Ryan Callahan (foot) and defenseman Michael Del Zotto.