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Dream comes true for Rangers' Brett Howden

The Rangers' Brett Howden plays the puck during

The Rangers' Brett Howden plays the puck during the first period against the Predators at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brett Howden conceded it was difficult to fall asleep Wednesday night, knowing that he’d be making his NHL debut in 24 hours. But once he was asleep, he said, he slept well.

The game-day skate at Madison Square Garden in the morning was a good thing.

“It’s nice to get out there and just kind of get some time off your hands,’’ he said. “I’m sure as the day goes along, I’ll get a lot more anxious.’’

Howden’s parents, Sheldon and Crystal, made the trip from Winnipeg to see his debut. They arrived Wednesday evening, in time to have dinner with their son, who had one shot on goal in 10:32. 

Beleskey ‘squooshed’

Matt Beleskey, who is on injured reserve with a separated shoulder, said he suffered the injury late in his first-period fight with Eric Gryba in the Rangers’ fourth preseason game, a 4-3 overtime win over the Devils at the Garden on Sept. 24.

“Just in the fight, at the end, he fell on me,’’ the 6-foot, 207-pound Beleskey said of the 6-4, 222-pound Gryba. “It was an awkward position with my shoulder, and just kind of ‘squooshed’ me, I guess, would be the word for it.’’

Beleskey, who said he is doing lots of cardiovascular work and normal shoulder rehab, thinks he played well before the injury. The Rangers have not told him where he’ll be assigned when he is healthy, he said.

“When that happens — we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,’’ he said. 

Blue shorts

The morning skate was optional, and 19 of the 23 players on the roster took part. The four who didn’t were Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith and Mats Zuccarello . . . Before the game, the Rangers honored the late longtime national anthem singer John Amirante, who died in April. With Amirante’s family on the ice, the center-ice scoreboard played a video of Amirante — with clips from several different games over the years — performing the anthem.

New York Sports