MONTREAL -- Instead of playing for the Connecticut Whale in Wilkes-Barre Saturday night, Christian Thomas became the 10th player to debut as a Ranger this season. He wore No. 58, becoming the first Ranger to do so.

Thomas, who is 5-8, was summoned after 52 games this season in Hartford and arrived in the afternoon after plane issues in Philadelphia. He had four goals and three assists in the last six games. In the OHL, he had 137 goals and 120 assists in 244 games over four seasons with the Oshawa Generals and London Knights.

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His father, Steve, a 20-year NHL veteran who is a player development consultant with Tampa Bay, made it to Saturday night's game, arriving from Carolina in the middle of the first period.

"I felt more comfortable as it went on," said Thomas, 20, who played 12:46, including 1:35 on the power play, and had two shots and three hits. "Third period, I felt it was just another game out there. It was hard to get a ton of stuff going. Montreal was playing well defensively. It was a great experience.''

Coach John Tortorella said before the game: "I know he's a hard-working kid and scored a lot of goals along the way, and has played better and better with our minor-league team. We just hope . . . that he gives us a little bit of spark, and then we'll slowly get to know him."


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Blue notesArron Asham (back spasms) missed his second consecutive game . . . D Steve Eminger, who was scratched when Marc Staal recovered from the flu, said his four games in Hartford on a conditioning stint were extremely helpful. "I played a lot of minutes in all different situations," said Eminger, who likely will play Tuesday at home against Winnipeg . . . Henrik Lundqvist, who had started three straight games, is expected to be in goal against Winnipeg,