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Rangers' Girardi practices, says he's fine for Game 2

by Dan Rosen /

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- What was an injury scare Thursday for the New York Rangers turned out to be nothing Friday, when defenseman Dan Girardi practiced and said he is good to go for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 1-0.

"Everything is fine and I'm ready to go [Saturday]," Girardi said Friday.

Girardi missed the final 9:29 of the Rangers' 2-1 win in Game 1 after getting hit in the right side of his face by a deflected shot. As the Rangers were finishing their win with five defensemen available, Girardi was being checked by the team dentist to make sure his teeth were intact and he didn't have any broken bones.

There was no damage.

"Just a little swelling right now but that's about it," Girardi said.

Girardi felt comfortable enough to practice Friday without any extra protection on his helmet. He said he won't wear any in Game 2 either.

"I'm just going to go out there and play the same way and see what happens," Girardi said.

Girardi's teammates were thrilled to see him back on the ice Friday because of how much he means to them.

He played all 82 games in the regular season, averaging 22:41 of ice time per game, second highest on the team behind captain Ryan McDonagh (23:07), who is Girardi's defense partner.

Girardi never has missed a Stanley Cup Playoff game (90 in total) since signing with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent out of the Ontario Hockey League in 2006-07. He has missed five regular-season games since making his NHL debut Jan. 27, 2007.

"That guy can battle through a ton of pain and be able to be effective for us," McDonagh said. "It's a great sign that he's able to practice there for sure. I was a little worried. You never know; a puck to the face can be a pretty serious thing sometimes."

Girardi played 18:37 before he had to leave the game Thursday. He and McDonagh primarily were tasked with shutting down Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who was limited to no points, one shot on goal and three shot attempts in 19:11 of ice time.

"I tell myself that I've seen everything that [Girardi] plays through, and sure enough a puck to the face is another one," McDonagh said. "If all things continue we should see him [Saturday]."

The Rangers won't see defenseman Kevin Klein in Game 2, at least not on the ice. Klein, who has missed the past 17 games because of a broken left arm, has not been cleared to practice and coach Alain Vigneault said Klein will need at least one practice before he plays in a game.

"So if you're assuming he's not in [Saturday], that's a good call," Vigneault said.

The Rangers are bracing for the Penguins to come out with a better start in Game 2 than they had in Game 1.

New York center Derick Brassard scored 28 seconds into the first period Thursday, and Pittsburgh committed four penalties, leading to a power-play goal for McDonagh that gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

"We've got to be ready right off the hop for a team that is going to be definitely forechecking better and better with the puck in their own end," McDonagh said. "When we have the puck we have to make good decisions with it so it doesn't give them the opportunity to get the momentum on their side."


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