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Rangers' Stepan breaks jaw, Prust banned two games

(Reuters) - The New York Rangers were dealt a blow on Friday with news that forward Derek Stepan broke his jaw after a blindside hit that resulted in a suspension for Montreal Canadiens winger Brandon Prust.

Stepan, who is second on the Rangers with 11 points in 17 playoff games this year, suffered the injury early in the first period of Thursday's Game Three of the Eastern Conference finals in New York. He will require surgery, and a timeframe for his return is not yet known.

Prust, who was not penalized at the time, had a hearing with the National Hockey League's department of player safety on Friday and was subsequently banned two games for interference, the league said in a statement.

"(Stepan) right now, at this time, is probably getting operated on," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, whose team lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, told reporters at New York's Madison Square Garden.

"He broke his jaw yesterday, so we'll have an idea of the time frame tomorrow. That incident, four referees missed the call. Stepan is injured."

Stepan, 23, had X-rays on Thursday that proved negative and he returned to the game, which the Rangers lost 3-2 in overtime.

However, Stepan was still suffering pain after the game and on Friday morning further tests revealed the jaw was broken.

Vigneault said Stepan's playing status for the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs would be determined after surgery.

Game Four of the series is Sunday in New York.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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