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Rangers forward Sean Avery hospitalized @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK (AP) -New York Rangers forward Sean Avery has been hospitalized after lacerating his spleen during a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In a statement Wednesday, the team said the noted agitator was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center after New York's 5-3 loss Tuesday night and was admitted following a CT scan.

Avery, whose spleen was not removed and isn't expected to need surgery, likely will be hospitalized for a few days, team spokesman John Rosasco said.

Michael Fagan, spokesman for St. Vincent's Medical Center, said Avery is in "stable" condition.

Rosasco said it's unclear when Avery was injured, but the forward complained during the game of pain that got worse. Following the game, Avery went in a car from Madison Square Garden to the hospital with team physician Dr. Andrew Feldman.

"He walked into the hospital," Rosasco said. "He was never in a life-threatening situation."

Avery's mother, Marlene, told the Toronto Sun that Avery's spleen had not ruptured, but he had suffered internal bleeding.

The spleen is an organ about the size of a fist on the left side of the body, behind the stomach. It helps the body fight infection and filters the blood. A person can live without a spleen, although they lose some of their ability to fight infections.

The 28-year-old will be out for the remainder of the season, the Rangers said, but is expected to make a full recovery.

The Daily News first reported on its Web site Wednesday morning that Avery was taken to St. Vincent's in cardiac arrest. The newspaper said he was unconscious and not breathing when taken to the hospital.

The Rangers trail the Penguins 3-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Avery had an assist on the Rangers' second goal in Tuesday night's game.

Avery, who's set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, is known for pushing the envelope on the ice and off it.

In the Rangers' first-round victory over New Jersey, Avery frustrated the Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur. The highlight came in Game 3 when Avery planted himself in the crease with his back to the action and faceguarded Brodeur.

"I've played for 15 years in this league. I've been watching games for 33 years. I had never seen that in my life," Brodeur said.

The NHL moved quickly to forbid the activity.

Nonetheless, Brodeur was so incensed by Avery's antics that he refused to shake his hand after the Rangers' series clinching victory in Game 5.

Avery has been a sparkplug for the Rangers since coming to the team from the Los Angeles Kings in a February 2007 trade.

In his time with the Rangers, he has elevated a knack of riling people into an art form. His targets find themselves mouthing off, or worse, getting so angered that they draw a penalty.

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