OTTAWA - Marty St. Louis, sidelined with a sprained MCL in his right knee, skated Thursday for the first time since the March 15th injury and was pleased with the progress in his rehab.

But the initial estimate of how much time he might miss -- 10 to 14 days -- was too short.

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"My next step is to see how I feel later today, take it a day at a time," said St. Louis, 39, who skated on his own at one end of the rink before joining Chris Kreider and two coaches taking shots at Henrik Lundqvist at Canadian Tire Center on Thursday morning.

"I was on the ice probably an hour [in the optional practice]," he said. "I'm not pushing it extra hard. We'll see how I respond. I'm encouraged how I felt, thought it was a good step."

The skate, which included conditioning drills at the end, "gives me a chance to see where I'm at," said St. Louis, who has 20 goals and 27 assist and has missed five straight games. "I'm very optimistic the way it's progressed the last four or five days. I've never had this type of injury, so it's tough for me to gauge it, to compare. I found out a lot this last week about the knee and what's where. The MCL is more common and easier to come back from, in terms of the time period. I felt very fortunate."

St. Louis, who heard something pop after wrenching the knee behind the Panthers' net at the end of the game against Florida , will presumably skate on his own sometime over the next four days. The Rangers are not scheduled to practice Friday, have back-to-back afternoon games, with no morning skates, on the weekend, and are off Monday.