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PITTSBURGH -- 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.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said that St. Louis was able to return home to Montreal to be with family on Thursday after learning the news. The veteran winger decided Friday he wanted to rejoin the team in Pittsburgh.
The Rangers trail the Penguins 3-1 in the second-round series and face elimination with a loss.
"This morning he said he talked to his dad. Him and his dad agreed that his mom would have wanted him to be here," Vigneault said.
St. Louis coordinated a flight back on Friday in hopes of helping the Rangers keep their season alive. Vigneault said he was impressed by St. Louis' commitment to his teammates.
"I do think the fact that Marty decided to come back again, it says a lot about him but it also says a lot about our group," Vigneault said. "Our guys care, they're trying real hard and that's what we're trying to do tonight."
The Rangers are coming off three straight losses to the Penguins after taking Game 1 of the series in Pittsburgh. It has been a series where the team's stars, including St. Louis, have been noticeably absent.
St. Louis had a rough night in Game 4 on Monday, managing only one shot on goal in 18:15 of ice time in a 4-2 loss.
Vigneault didn't sound as though he entertained the idea of telling the defending Art Ross champ to stay home and clear his head. Once St. Louis decided to play, that was all he needed to hear.
"At the end of the day, my message to him was there are more important things than hockey. You have to do what's right, you have to take care of your dad. They got up this morning and they talked and sorted it out and he's here," Vigneault said.
Earlier in the day, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he felt "terrible" for St. Louis and what he was going through.
"My heart goes out to Marty and his family," Bylsma said.
France St. Louis was 63 years old. She resided in Montreal.