Vinny Prospal makes season debut

Updated: February 3, 2011, 9:51 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers left winger Vinny Prospal is back.

Prospal returned to the Rangers' lineup Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils after missing the past four months while undergoing rehab on his surgically repaired right knee. Prospal scored a goal in his return, but the Rangers lost, 3-2.

The 35-year-old, who will turn 36 on Feb. 17, was second on the team last season in both goals (20) and points (58). He played on a line with struggling right winger Marian Gaborik and rookie center Derek Stepan.

Prospal and Gaborik had good chemistry while playing on the same line last season, and head coach John Tortorella is hopeful that dynamic between the two will reappear in the second half of this year.

"I want to see it work and if it can work," Tortorella said. "Vinny's been out for so long, we wanna see what he's about. But I'm not gonna try to be a genius. I wanna see if it works. And we'll try to give it some time here. I'm not sure how long it's gonna go, but I'm gonna try it right now, I'll put it to you that way."

Gaborik has scored just 16 goals in 39 games, with 10 of those tallies being amassed in three of them.

Henrik Lundqvist was in goal for the Rangers on Thursday night. The 28-year-old All-Star netminder came in with a record of 21-16-4 and owns a 21-7-5 career mark against the Devils. After giving up three goals on 12 shots, Lundqvist was pulled and replaced with Martin Biron.

Tortorella also announced that rookie Kris Newbury was sent down to the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Connecticut.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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