GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Ruslan Fedotenko had a sheepish grin on his face and an icepack on his right hand, which he tried to hide behind his back. But Fedotenko had no reason to be bashful. Anyone who saw his gutsy play on Sunday had to admire him.
On a first-period penalty-kill against the Panthers, Fedotenko blocked Bryan McCabe's slapper from the point, grimaced and stayed crouched on the ice, trying to block two more shots from McCabe before the puck was cleared. He flung his stick toward the bench, raced into the trainers' room and didn't return.
"You try to block shots, you can't just block one and say your job is done," Fedotenko said Tuesday after practice. "I thought it [the hand] was broken; four to six weeks, not day to day."
The 31-year-old winger, whose hand was broken in the same spot in January 2009 with the Penguins, was sore and swollen but would be "good enough to play" against the Hurricanes Wednesday night at the Garden. Fedotenko, who played for coach John Tortorella in Tampa, made the club as a tryout and signed a one-year, $1-million deal, has been an asset beyond his seven goals and 10 assists.
"He's grown into a guy that I use in all situations," Tortorella said. "We've lost some people, [Marian] Gaborik for a number of games this year, [Vinny] Prospal hasn't even played - and I've been able to move Feds up to top-line situations. You have to consider [Brian] Boyle's line one of our top lines now; he plays on that, too. We put him in penalty-kill situations. He's a big part of our game this year."
Notes & quotes: Oft-scratched Matt Gilroy has earned his way back into the No. 6 defense slot. "I hope players are upset when they're not playing, but it wasn't having an effect on the team," Tortorella said. "He has stayed together and has improved his game." . . . Ryan McDonagh, 21, who was recalled when Michael Del Zotto was sent to Connecticut, practiced, but will sit Wednesday. "He can skate like hell, I will say that," Tortorella said.