PITTSBURGH - In what he considered a second opening night, Rangers captain Chris Drury returned as a fourth liner and penalty killer after missing eight weeks and 31 games with a twice-broken index finger.

Drury, who was injured first in training camp and then in the Oct. 15 home opener, wore extra padding on his gloves. The veteran forward began on a line with left wing Sean Avery and Erik Christensen. Coach John Tortorella said he had no specific minute limitations in mind for Drury, but he might be used on the penalty kill and as a righthanded faceoff man in the defensive zone.

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"I really like the three [forward] pairs we've been using [on the PK], but I might use a fourth," said Tortorella, who added that Drury is the type of straight-ahead, hardworking, two-way player who would fit in with the developing identity of the team. In his career, Drury had been very productive against the Penguins, with 13 goals and 34 points in 39 games.

Drury made it clear that he was rejoining a far more cohesive team that didn't need any specific encouraging words from him. "The chemistry is there," he said. "The camaraderie is there."


Blue notes

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Todd White was scratched for the 17th time, and D Matt Gilroy was a healthy scratch. The sidelined Vinny Prospal (knee), who traveled here and was expected to practice, instead came down with the flu and was sent back to New York. Derek Boogaard (shoulder) stayed in New York for treatment and won't play against Phoenix Thursday . . . Assistant general manager Jim Schoenfeld said that Wolfpack forward Mats Zuccarello was "more creative than many" NHL players, and if he continued his progress, had a chance to join the Rangers this season.