Rangers All-Star right winger Marian Gaborik returned to practice Sunday after missing a week with a sore groin.
Coach John Tortorella said he hopes Gaborik can return to the lineup for tonight's game against the Islanders. "It's important that we get Gaby back in and feeling good about himself . . . We want him to be confident," Tortorella said through a team spokesman.
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Gaborik reportedly practiced on a line with rookie center Derek Stepan and Brandon Dubinsky. The oft-injured right winger didn't play in Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss to Tampa Bay and has missed 14 games this season.
Gaborik's confidence could get an immediate boost should he return against the Islanders. He has three goals and two assists in three games against the Islanders this season, including a hat trick Dec. 2.
Tortorella said the Rangers will recall Mats Zuccarello, who played in place of Gaborik against the Lightning, from the Connecticut Whale Monday.
"He ups our talent level . . . He made some plays [Thursday] that other guys would not even have thought about," Tortorella said of Zuccarello. He said he was unsure who will be out of the lineup to make room for Zuccarello.
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto also returned to practice Sunday after missing Thursday's game with the flu.