Rachunek out 3 to 4 weeks with sprained MCL

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers are running out of games
and healthy players in their push for the playoffs. Add
Karel Rachunek to the list of injured regulars.

The veteran defenseman will be out three to four weeks after an
MRI taken Wednesday revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament
in his right knee. Rachunek was injured in the first period of the
Rangers' 3-2 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday when he collided
knee-to-knee with Senators center Jason Spezza.

That left the Rangers with only five defensemen, and Ottawa took
advantage by scoring all three goals after he left the game.

Rachunek joins fellow defenseman Fedor Tyutin and forward Marcel
Hossa, who also sustained MCL injuries in the past two weeks. The
Rangers recalled defenseman David Liffiton from Hartford of the AHL
on Wednesday.

New York, currently 11th in the Eastern Conference, fell out of
a playoff spot Tuesday night after squandering a two-goal lead to
the Senators. The Rangers visit Atlanta on Friday before facing
Boston at home the following night.

The Rangers, who have 12 games left to try to get into the
postseason for the second straight year, were already dealing with
a depleted lineup before starting the rough month of March.

Brendan Shanahan has missed 12 games because of the concussion
he sustained on Feb. 17 when he collided with Philadelphia Flyers
forward Mike Knuble. Shanahan skated with the Rangers at practice
on Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time since the injury and
continues to show improvement.

His vertigo symptoms have diminished but there is still no
timetable for his return. Shanahan is optimistic he will play again
before the end of the season.

Hossa is expected to be out a few more weeks, while Tyutin might
be able to return in two. Left wing Martin Straka is playing
through a painful shoulder injury, and backup goalie Kevin Weekes
is working his way back from a thigh injury sustained on Feb. 13 in