Richter suffers skull fracture

The New York Rangers must reach the playoffs without Mike Richter.

Richter, 35, was diagnosed with a linear fracture of the temporal bone above his right ear and will miss the rest of the regular season.

The veteran goaltender will be re-evaluated in two weeks, so could conceivably be available should the Rangers qualify for postseason play.

New York completes its regular season schedule on April 13th.

The Rangers are currently three points back of the Montreal Canadiens and the final playoff berth in the NHL Eastern Conference, but have lost six of its last seven games.

Richter suffered the injury when struck by Chris Tamer's slapshot in the first period of Friday's 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Madison Square Garden.

The fracture was found during a CT scan at New York's Grammercy MRI Diagnostic Centre on Monday and evaluated by Rangers physicians Dr. Andrew Feldman and Dr. Ron Weissman, team neurologist Dr. Claude Macaluso and Dr. David Payne of Grammercy.

Rookie Daniel Blackburn replaces Richter as the Rangers' primary puckstopper.

Drafted 10th overall in 2001, the 18-year-old Montreal native is 7-13-0 with a 3.27 goals-against average, including 0-3 in his last three starts.

Richter posted a 24-26-4 record with a 2.95 GAA and .906 save percentage in 55 appearances, plus backstopped Team USA to a silver medal at the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.

The Abington, PA native is 296-252-72 with a 2.95 GAA and 24 shutouts in 653 career appearances over 13 NHL seasons, all with New York.

Drafted in the second round -- 28th overall -- by the Rangers in 1985, Richter is the winningest goaltender in franchise history, a three-time all-star (1992, 1994, 2000) and 1994 Stanley Cup champion.