Hurting Staal toughing it out for Rangers
ANAHEIM -- Marc Staal's ironman streak was broken, but the Rangers All-Star defenseman is grinding it out on a sore left knee that may not be 100 percent the rest of the season.
"I'm still getting treatment, but we're taping it up and it's getting better," said Staal, who was to be paired with Dan Girardi against the Ducks' top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry Wednesday night. "They're all big and there's not one guy you can key on," Staal said. "They're as dangerous as anybody in the league."
Staal, who twisted the knee on his first shift against Carolina on Feb. 22, had played in 247 straight before missing three games. But he has played more than 21 minutes in each of the last three.
After playing 13 straight, center Erik Christensen was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Christensen missed 16 games with a right knee sprain before dressing on Feb. 5, but sat Sunday when Marian Gaborik returned against the Flyers after missing six games with concussion symptoms. Rangers coach John Tortorella prefers Vinny Prospal centering Gaborik, with Sean Avery on the left side. Prospal had two goals and eight points in seven games before Wednesday night.
"He's not a great skater," Tortorella said of Prospal. "Five on five he's been a little inconsistent, but he's made some really good plays on the power play, he's won a lot of faceoffs and helped us there."
Another shot at Sharks
The Rangers face the Sharks on Saturday to close this trip. In their only matchup last season, the Sharks routed the Rangers, 7-3, Oct. 19 at Madison Square Garden in a game in which Henrik Lundqvist replaced Steve Valiquette, who surrendered five goals on 18 shots. Valiquette played only four more games for the Rangers before being sent to the AHL.