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Gaborik ready to get back on ice

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2010, file

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2010, file photo, New York Rangers' Marian Gaborik, of Slovakia, moves the puck during the first period of an NHL game against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. Gaborik limped off the ice during practice Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, after the Rangers' leading scorer was cut on the right knee by the skate of goalie Henrik Lundqvist in a collision. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON - Does Marian Gaborik have a touch of the guilts? Sounds like it.

In a surprising development, Rangers leading scorer Gaborik - who hasn't played since Saturday in Vancouver in Slovakia's bronze-medal game - practiced Friday and said he expects to be in uniform Saturday against the Capitals.

"It felt good to be with the boys, so I'm going to be good to go for [Saturday]," said Gaborik, who appeared to injure his groin against Canada in the Olympics and sat out the first two Rangers games after the break because he said he couldn't help the team. But on Friday, his tune changed.

"The game is going to be a real test to see if it's going to hold out," said Gaborik, who has 35 goals and 34 assists. "Obviously, in a perfect world, maybe we would wait a little bit. But I want to get back at it and get out there.

"There's 18 games left and it's going to be a tough stretch and I want to be a part of it . . . The boys are working hard out there. It's frustrating. I don't think anybody would want to be in that position, so I'm anxious to get back at it.''

Before the Rangers' 5-4 overtime loss to the visiting Penguins on Thursday, coach John Tortorella repeatedly declined to discuss Gaborik's status, other than to say he would miss the game.

Gaborik, 27, had hip flexor surgery last season and played only 17 games, but he was healthy this season until his right thigh was sliced in a one-on-one collision with Henrik Lundqvist during practice Feb. 9. He also sat out the final Rangers game before the Olympic break but played every game for Slovakia.

"There's a history [of injury] there and he knows his body very well and we're allowing him to get through this," Tortorella said Friday. "The biggest thing is, everybody's sore. What's the definition of an injury versus soreness? That's where we're allowing him to work through this himself.

"There's some days he's wanted off the ice [that] we've tried to push him along through practice because we felt it would help him. He's been really good all year long as far as playing with bumps and bruises and soreness. It's too bad [the injury] happens when he's playing for another team, that we're losing him for some pretty important games here."

Notes & quotes: Ryan Callahan is "a little banged up" and did not skate but will play Saturday, Tortorella said . . . The coach's decision on which goaltender will face the Caps will be announced Saturday. Backup Alex Auld, obtained on waivers from the Stars last Saturday, could make his Rangers debut.

New York Sports