NEW YORK, N.Y. - Key defenceman Marc Staal is back in the New York Rangers lineup Monday night for the first time since he was struck near his right eye by a deflected puck on March 5.
Staal is returning to action at a critical time for the Rangers, who entered Game 3 against the Washington Capitals down 2-0 in the best-of-seven, first-round series. New York has scored only one goal in the two games, including a 1-0 loss at Washington on Saturday.
The Madison Square Garden crowd cheered wildly when Staal, who is wearing a visor, was shown on the centre-ice video board as part of the starting lineup before the national anthem.
Steve Eminger was scratched from the lineup to make room for Staal.
Rangers forward Ryane Clowe (suspected concussion) remained out for New York.
We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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