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Rangers’ Matt Puempel could play Sunday against Senators

Matt Puempel #26 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates

Matt Puempel #26 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates his second-period goal against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Friday, March 13, 2015 in Uniondale. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Maybe he sticks on Broadway, maybe he doesn’t, but former first-round pick Matt Puempel will have a shot to make his case in the next few weeks. The 23-year-old left wing didn’t play Wednesday night against the Penguins, but it’s possible that he’ll have his first opportunity to play Sunday against the Senators, the team that waived him. Coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday that Puempel, currently the 13th forward, would play, “hopefully sooner than later.”

“I’ll do whatever they ask,” Puempel said after skating Wednesday. “I’ve always been known as an offensive guy . . . in Ottawa I was [only] getting five or six minutes a night.”

With Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich sidelined, the Rangers claimed Puempel, who was drafted 24th overall in 2011, on Monday. He has scored 30 goals three times in the Ontario Hockey League and once in the AHL.

“I had had a long day on Sunday to think about [being waived],” said Puempel. “Either way, I was going to look at it as a fresh start: I was going back to Binghamton [AHL] to revive my confidence and scoring touch, or to a new organization. I’m re-energized.’’

Crosby sparks Penguins

If the Pens needed a jolt after losing, 5-2, to the Rangers at home on Monday and falling behind 1-0 Wednesday night, it may have come from their captain, Sidney Crosby.

At 13:02 of the first period, Crosby took exception to Ryan McDonagh’s hard check along the boards on Conor Sheary.

Crosby dropped his gloves and yanked McDonagh to the ice.

“I saw Shears get hit in the numbers there. I just tried to stick up for him.” said Crosby. “Those are hits that sometimes happen fast and I didn’t think he (McDonagh) was targeting by any means. We’re a team. We want to stick together.”

McDonagh drew a five-minute boarding major; Crosby got two for roughing.

“It’s just part of the game,” said McDonagh. “It was a big hit, he’s sticking up for his team. Anyone on our team would do the same. Maybe it sparked him a little bit because he definitely came out with some fire in the second half, but there shouldn’t be any reason we can’t play with that same intensity.”

Nash protected in expansion draft

Because they have no-move clauses, Dan Girardi, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal and Rick Nash are required to be protected from the 2017 expansion draft, designed to fill the roster of the Vegas Golden Knights, according to a memo distributed to NHL teams obtained by Sportsnet.

The inclusion of Nash was surprising. The contract that Nash signed with Columbus on July 3, 2009 stipulated that he maintained the no-move clause when it came to being waived or loaned (or exposed for expansion, under the NHL’s interpretation) even though his full no-trade clause was downgraded to a 12-team list in June 2015, Sportsnet said. Players on entry-level contracts, such as Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey and Brady Skjei, also are protected.

New York Sports