Rangers forward Jed Ortmeyer took a big step in the road back to the NHL on Wednesday night in Hartford, playing his first game since suffering a pulmonary embolism four months ago.
Ortmeyer helped the Wolf Pack, the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate, roar back from a 2-0 second-period deficit to beat the Philadelphia Phantoms 3-2. His assist on the Pack's first goal, scored by Brandon Dubinsky
with only 3:10 left in the middle period, began a comeback that led to two more unanswered goals in the third.
Dane Byers and Ryan Callahan
got the goals that tied and won the game, but it was truly a special night for Ortmeyer, who fired three shots on goal in addition to his assist. Ortmeyer had not played for the Pack since the 2004-05 season, when he scored 27 points in 61 games during the NHL lockout.
Ortmeyer has been assigned to Hartford on a conditioning loan, allowed for players who have had long-term illnesses. Ortmeyer's fitness to play will continue to be assessed during his stint with the Pack.
Ortmeyer, 28, was cleared for contact in practice on Nov. 24 after medical testing showed he was ready to take the next step in his recovery from a pulmonary embolism that was diagnosed on Aug. 13, 2006.
Last season, Ortmeyer ranked first among team forwards and seventh among all NHL forwards with 75 blocked shots. Although he had not been able to play during his recovery, he represented the Rangers organization at numerous events, including the recent Holiday Toy Drive.