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Game 5 uncertainty for Rangers, Penguins

UPDATE 5:25 p.m. ET: Following the unexpected death of his mother on Thursday, New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis has decided he will play in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.


PITTSBURGH -- It's a tough day for the New York Rangers as they try to keep their playoff dreams alive for at least one more game.

The Rangers, who chose not to have a formal morning skate Friday after having a full practice at home Thursday before flying to Pittsburgh, received terrible news Thursday when it was learned that Martin St. Louis’ mother had died suddenly.

It wasn't immediately clear whether St. Louis would be in the lineup for the Rangers, who trail Pittsburgh 3-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Game 5 set for Friday night.

Head coach Alain Vigneault was to meet with the media before Friday night’s game.

“Obviously I just heard about that this morning. It’s tough. You never like to hear news like that,” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said Friday morning.

“I had the opportunity to play with Marty in the Olympics and get to know him. He’s a great guy and competes hard. Sure, it’s not easy so, yeah, we’re definitely thinking about him,” Crosby said.

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said he heard the news Thursday evening and wanted to reach out to St. Louis.

“Terrible. My heart goes out to Marty and his family,” Bylsma said.

Given that the Rangers did not skate Friday and the uncertainty surrounding St. Louis’ availability and that Vigneault did juggle his lines at Thursday’s practice, it’s almost impossible to suggest what the Rangers’ forward units might look like Friday night. Still, here's a guess based on practice lines from Thursday.

Forwards

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash-Brad Richards-Carl Hagelin

Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-St. Louis/J.T. Miller

Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett

Defense pairings

Dan Girardi-Ryan McDonagh

Marc Staal-Anton Stralman

John Moore-Kevin Klein

Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

As for the Penguins, Brooks Orpik -- who missed five games with a lower-body injury and then left Game 4 in New York after appearing to aggravate the injury -- did not skate Friday morning.

If Orpik cannot play, look for Robert Bortuzzo to return to the lineup and play with Rob Scuderi. Here’s how the Penguins’ overall lineup looks for Game 5.

Forwards

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Lee Stempniak

Jussi Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal

Beau Bennett-Brandon Sutter-Joe Vitale

Brian Gibbons-Marcel Goc-Craig Adams

Defense pairings

Matt Niskanen-Olli Maatta

Paul Martin-Kris Letang

Scuderi-Bortuzzo

Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury