Louis Domingue arrived home in Hartford, unpacked and then had to repack for an immediate trip back to New York.
This is the lifestyle the veteran netminder signed up for in July 2022, but hasn’t had to live until now.
The Rangers have caught the injury bug for the first time in years and it has bit the team’s goaltending tandem of Igor Shesterkin (minor soreness) and Jonathan Quick (upper-body injury).
That was Domingue’s cue to make his first start as a Ranger on Thursday night against the Wild at Madison Square Garden, as well as his first regular-season NHL start since April 24, 2022 with the Penguins.
“It felt amazing, honestly,” Domingue said after he made 26 saves in the Rangers’ 4-1 win. “To get the support of the crowd like that was great. It’s nice to be on their side for once. Tonight was great. The team played really well in the third to get a win. It was just a matter of giving them a chance to grab the game and they did.”
The emotions Domingue felt upon hearing he would be starting for the Rangers were more so tied to having to leave his family behind in Hartford.
To Domingue, who brought 142 games of NHL experience into Thursday’s game, it’s just another NHL start.
That’s probably a best-case scenario for the Rangers, who have been spoiled by their overall goaltending since the Henrik Lundqvist era. Domingue isn’t some bright-eyed prospect who is nervous for his shot.
“Same as usual,” Domingue said of his approach. “Try to get by the first five minutes is one of my keys. From experience, when you haven’t played in the NHL for a while you need to get going, you need to adapt to the pace of play, the traffic, how heavy the guys are in front of the net. It was just a matter of me getting by the first little bit and then building on it.”
Domingue is off to a solid start in AHL Hartford, where he has posted a 3-1 record, .934 save percentage, 1.75 goals-against average and one shutout. The last NHL game he played, however, was with the Penguins in Game 6 of the first round of the 2022 playoffs against the Rangers.
“My game’s been good,” Domingue said before the game. “Year after year you try to build something to become the best version of yourself in net. I think I’m continuing to trend that way. It’s just another game.”
Dylan Garand suited up in a red, white and blue jersey for his first non-exhibition game since the Rangers drafted him in the fourth round (103rd overall) in 2020.
The Rangers have a scheduled off-day on Friday before they resume practice on Saturday at MSG Training Center in Tarrytown.