Dan Girardi was extremely fortunate. He could have been badly injured when Nazem Kadri's skate hit his neck during a scrum at the end boards at 13:19 of the third period Saturday night.
Rangers trainer Jim Ramsay raced out from the bench, but Girardi escaped with a three-inch scratch.
"I felt it right away," said Girardi, who played 23:24 in the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Maple Leafs. "I grabbed my neck, I looked [at my glove] and I didn't see anything. I saw a little bit [of blood], but I was like, whew . . . I pushed him over, but he lost his balance too. That's what he told me."
Stepan: 'I was a little slow'
Center Derek Stepan recorded an assist in his season debut after missing 12 games with a fractured fibula, but he found fault with his overall game.
"I felt OK. It was better than I expected,'' he said. "But I was late in spots, little plays, little passes, reads; it's game scenarios, situations. I was a little slow," said Stepan (one shot in 17:26). He won only six of 19 faceoffs as the Rangers won just 36 percent of the draws.
"As a group, we gave them too much," he said. "I think all game we had too many turnovers. We need to find a way to win a hockey game. Late in the game, we couldn't find that push."
Kaberle weighs options
Czech defenseman Tomas Kaberle said Saturday that he is not ready to retire. If the Rangers don't offer him a contract after his tryout, he will consider returning to play in Europe.
"I don't want to look past this, but it's always possible,'' said Kaberle, 36, who played for the Maple Leafs for 12 seasons before going to Boston during the 2010-11 season. "Obviously, I'm just going to sit and practice each day. I'm hoping it happens. If it doesn't happen in a while, then I have to make a decision with my agent.''
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Kaberle is aware that a decision isn't imminent. "We know that he's an experienced player that has got a good skill set. He did not play in the league last year,'' he said. "It's not easy because we don't practice a lot. We're going to give ourselves a little bit of time.''
Kaberle had a training-camp tryout with the Devils but was released. "I feel I can compete in the league,'' he said. "It didn't go in New Jersey the way I wanted. The Rangers had some issues with injuries and they called me.''
Since Kaberle left the Leafs, where he reigns as the second-highest-scoring defenseman behind Borje Salming, his style hasn't changed, he said. "Age,'' he said, "is the only difference in my game.''
Talbot has company
Cam Talbot, who grew up in Caledonia, about 60 miles south of Toronto, expected a large contingent of family and friends at Air Canada Centre. Entering the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Maple Leafs, he had not lost in regulation in this country, with a 4-0-1 record, a 0.60 GAA, a .977 save percentage and two shutouts in five regular-season games.
The Rangers have only four points in the last four games, with two overtime losses, one win and a regulation loss . . . The fourth line of Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes and Anthony Duclair had only one or two good shifts Saturday night . . . Mats Zuccarello, who had a goal and an assist, led both teams with seven shots . . . Carl Hagelin's goal in the second period was the 100th point of his career . . . The forwards on the ice for the Maple Leafs' game-winning goal, whom Vigneault fingered but did not name, were Lee Stempniak, Dominic Moore and Hagelin . . . Defensemen Dan Boyle (broken hand) and John Moore (suspended) and left wing Ryan Malone were scratched . . . Henrik Lundqvist will start Sunday night against the Oilers at the Garden.