Rangers' Michael Del Zotto not punished for hit

Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto marks Pittsburgh Penguins Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto marks Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin in the first period. (April 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- The NHL's disciplinarians decided not to punish Michael Del Zotto for a third-period hit on Pittsburgh's James Neal that forced the winger out of Friday's game with a possible concussion, but the defenseman was contrite Saturday.

"Like I said, obviously it really wasn't intentional; unfortunately there was an injury," said Del Zotto, who braced himself for Neal's hit from behind at the end boards and caught Neal in the head with his elbow. "I know him from home. He's a friend of mine. I feel terrible about it. It's a quick game and things happen fast out there."

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Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called it a "reverse hit" and that Neal would be monitored for the next few days.

"I think that hit happens multiple times in a game," Del Zotto said. "You go back to get the puck and you're protecting. That hit happened on me in New York. It's happening more and more. It's just unfortunate that an injury came of it . . . I'm just looking forward to the game to try to get back into it and get two points and not really worrying about it too much."

Blue notesWith Del Zotto in the lineup, defensemen Matt Gilroy and Roman Hamrlik again were healthy scratches . . . Next up is a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs, in Toronto on Monday and in New York on Wednesday . . . The Hurricanes host the Rangers again in the Blueshirts' penultimate game of the regular season April 25 . . . Injured Marc Staal met with his younger brother Jordan and his dad, Henry, but did not spend any time with older brother Eric, the Hurricanes' captain, before the game. Neither team had a mandatory morning skate.

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