Hockey / Sports

Masked man Derek Stepan returns to Rangers lineup

MONTREAL -- No, that wasn't Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises" taking the ice for the Rangers in Game 5 on Tuesday. It was center Derek Stepan.

Stepan wore a bulky clear plastic mask attached to his helmet to guard a broken jaw he suffered on a hit from Canadiens winger Brandon Prust in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"It's ugly," center Brian Boyle said. "But hopefully it's effective. He battles. He's a gamer."

After having surgery and missing Game 4 -- the first he has missed in four seasons with the Rangers -- Stepan was back on the top line with Chris Kreider and Rick Nash.

"He might not be known as a physical guy, but he can throw some big hits and take some big hits too," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "He takes a lot of hits to make plays."

Coach Alain Vigneault said before the game Stepan would play only if doctors cleared him, adding there were "a lot of things that have to fall into place."

Stepan is on a soft diet, the team said, and can talk. He drank water through a straw during breaks Tuesday night, and the team had three doctors in Montreal treating him.

Even though he may not have felt 100 percent, the Rangers were glad to have him back so quickly.

"He looks a little different," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "Injuries will happen, but it's always good to see guys come back that fast and be ready to play."

Price skating: In a development that piqued a lot of speculation in Montreal, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price worked out in full pads Tuesday for a half-hour. It was the second straight day Price worked out, the first in full pads.

Coach Michel Therrien insisted Price, who has not played since Game 1, is still out for the series and said these workouts are simply part of his rehabilitation.

"He's not going to play in that series," Therrien said.

Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin missed the game because of an unspecified injury.

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