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Will Derek Stepan return to New York Rangers lineup in Game 5?

Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers lies injured on the ice. When last seen in action, Derek Stepan was face-down after taking a nasty hit in Game 3. (David Hahn/Icon SMI_

By Allan Muir

The New York Rangers may have Derek Stepan in the lineup tonight in Montreal (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't commit to the decision..but he didn't rule Stepan out, either. The Rangers center needed surgery after suffering a broken jaw when hit by Montreal's Brandon Prust in Game 3. Prust received a two-game suspension, which he will still be serving tonight.

"There are a lot of things that have to happen for him to play tonight," Vigneault said of New York's first-line center. "We're going to talk to him this afternoon and see how he reacted to the practice [this morning]. Nutrition, obviously, is an issue at this time, so later on today we'll talk to our doctors and we'll talk to him and we'll see how it works out.

"I couldn't give you the full dynamics of this. I know we've got three doctors that are here that have obviously been talking to him since the operation. They're going to talk between the player and the doctors, and they're going to make the call.That's not going to be up to [Stepan]."

So, sounds like he's probably in.

Stepan participated in practice this morning alongside usual linemates Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. He wore a clear full-face shield. If the doctors don't give him the green light, Vigneault said he would use Jesper Fast or Oscar Lindberg in his place.

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