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Penguins' Neal leaves with injury

by Chris Adamski /

James Neal
James Neal
Left Wing - PIT
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 32
SOG: 125 | +/-: 3

PITTSBURGH -- Forward James Neal left the Pittsburgh Penguins' game against the New York Rangers on Friday night with about 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation after being caught in the face by the elbow of Michael Del Zotto.

Neal stayed down for several moments, looking woozy as training personnel attended to him. He skated off on his own power. Through coach Dan Bylsma, the team provided no update on his condition other than to say, "We'll see in the next few days how he's doing."

Facing forward and with Neal coming up behind him as he stood behind the Rangers' net during a Pittsburgh power play, Del Zotto lunged up backward and made contact with Neal.

The Penguins were clearly agitated by the incident, and the ensuing few minutes included several hits and scuffles after the whistle. Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct -- a penalty that, in effect, led to the Rangers' only goal -- and the Rangers were upset with Matt Cooke after the Penguins agitator's stick clipped goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"It hurt at the time, but it's a pain that goes away -- I was more upset about the play," Lundqvist said. "There's no need for it, but... it's him being him."

Multiple Penguins players after the 2-1 shootout victory were diplomatic and noncommittal when asked if Del Zotto's hit was clean.

"He obviously knows James is coming and goes for a reverse hit," Bylsma said. "I don't think there's any question about what the contact was and where he made contact."

Neal had 40 goals last season and is tied for seventh in the National Hockey League in goals this season with 18. He is tied with Dupuis for second on the team behind Chris Kunitz, who has 20.

Neal skates on a line with reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and the newly-acquired Jarome Iginla.

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