Staal sits, likely with sore knee

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. (Feb. 1, 2011) Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. (Feb. 1, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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PITTSBURGH -- The Rangers rallied yesterday without the services of All-Star defenseman Marc Staal, sidelined with what is believed to be a sore left knee, which was twisted Feb. 23 and kept him out of three games. Staal seemed to be walking without a limp after the game.

Coach John Tortorella said Staal sustained a "body" injury and that with the playoffs approaching, would not be more specific on injuries to prevent teams from targeting banged-up players.

"We missed him," he said. "Emmy [Steve Eminger] played hard . . . I don't think our forwards helped us much. We lost our weak side backcheck in the second period, but the defense regrouped."

Paired with Staal's partner Dan Girardi, Eminger played 24:19, had eight hits and three blocked shots.

Resting Staal for several days will perhaps allow him to play Tuesday against the Panthers at home. On the West Coast trip, Staal told Newsday that that the knee was not 100 percent.

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Line broken up

The line of Vinny Prospal, Erik Christensen and Marian Gaborik was described by Tortorella as "a nightmare for the first three shifts . . . they wanted [Jordan] Staal against that line and they destroyed them. So I split them up."

Prospal had an assist to extend his point streak to nine games and Gaborik scored on the 5-on-3. "He scores a big goal, but that line did not play well today," said Tortorella.

Blue notes

Brandon Dubinsky, who recorded an empty-net goal and two assists, was 11-for-17 on faceoffs . . . Artem Anisimov scored his fifth goal in nine games and also had an assist.

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