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Dan Girardi on facing Ryan Callahan for first time: It's going to be a little different

Dan Girardi skates with the puck as right

Dan Girardi skates with the puck as right wing Ryan Callahan is pushed by Washington Capitals right wing Jay Beagle in the first period of a game on Dec. 8, 2013. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Dan Girardi's chest and shoulder were sore after being freight-trained by Evgeni Malkin in the third period of Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss in Pittsburgh.

But in a locker room still reeling from an overturned shootout-deciding goal, Girardi already was looking ahead to Monday when a longtime friend and two other ex-teammates visit the Garden.

Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since the trio left via trade and free agency.

Girardi and Callahan are close, as are their families. They played three years together in junior for the Guelph Storm of the OHL, and were teammates in Hartford before being called up.

"It's going to be a little different because it's guys you've played with the last four or five years," Girardi said, "and Cally even longer and being the captain of the Rangers."

Only Girardi, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist remain from the 2007-08 season, when Staal was 21, Callahan 22, Girardi 23 and Lundqvist 25.

Girardi, 30, is here because he signed a six-year, $33-million extension last February, but Callahan, who had maintained that he wanted to stay in New York, rejected the Rangers' six-year, $36-million offer that did not include a full no-trade clause, and was traded to Tampa Bay last March for Martin St. Louis.

Callahan, named captain in 2011, eventually took less money, $34.8 million over six years, from the Lightning. He told Newsday on Saturday that he wasn't sure how he would be welcomed by Rangers fans on Monday. St. Louis will visit Tampa for the first time on Nov. 26. But first things first.

Boyle, who wears No. 11 in Tampa rather than his former 22 out of respect for former Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle, now with the Rangers, came to Broadway via a 2009 trade with the Kings.

Stralman, a free agent, signed with the Rangers in November 2011. Both chose Tampa's multi-year offers last summer over the Rangers.

So far, all three former Blueshirts have thrived in Florida: Callahan is 6-7-13 in 13 games, Boyle is 5-3-8 with two game-winners in 18 games, and Stralman is 2-8-10 in 18 games and a plus-13.

"It's a big game for them, too," Girardi said. "They're all going to be excited to play, so we've got to make sure we're ready for their energy. It's going to be good to get those guys back at the Garden. We'll see what happens."

Notes & quotes: Seven of the first 17 Rangers games have gone to overtime, the most in that opening span for the club since 1986-87. Since the shootout began in the 2005-06 season, it is the first time five of the Rangers' first 17 games of a season have been decided in a shootout. They are 1-4.

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