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Tortorella says Prust deserves more ice time

New York Rangers right wing Brandon Prust (8)

New York Rangers right wing Brandon Prust (8) skates with the puck during the game against the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden. (February 10, 2010) Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - With the Rangers heading into another crucial game Friday in Atlanta against the Thrashers, coach John Tortorella appears ready to put his trust in Prust.

Brandon Prust skated on a line at practice Thursday with Chris Drury and Erik Christensen. That left Sean Avery as one of five skaters wearing the yellow jersey of the fourth line.

Prust scored a goal in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Devils, his first in 11 games as a Ranger. He was acquired from Calgary on Feb. 1 in the Olli Jokinen deal.

"He gave us some good minutes [Wednesday] night," Tortorella said. "I thought the fourth line for the last week or so has given us some good minutes. He's ugly when he skates, but he gets there. He's won some battles, he jumps on the puck . . . He's pretty responsible defensively. So he's earned his time and he's been a pretty good player for us and deserves some more minutes."

Tortorella is looking for something to spark the Rangers, losers of four in a row (two in overtime). Atlanta is one point behind the ninth-place Rangers, who don't have to be reminded that only the top eight teams in the conference make the playoffs.

"Our guys know where it's at," Tortorella said. "We just have to be ready to try to win another game here, to try to find a way to get points. There's no illusions what's going on with our club, where we're at. We need to act properly and consistently. That's the key."

Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled from Wednesday's defeat, said: "I'm so disappointed, both as a group and personally. It's a lot in our heads. We just need to believe we can do it."

Do they? Tortorella said the mood Thursday was positive, with the players aware of what they need to do in the last 15 games, if not exactly how to do it.

"They're fine," he said. "They practiced well. They practiced with energy. They're not going to just drag themselves around here because we lose a game. We need to get ready for another game."

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