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Rangers defenceman Paul Mara sidelined by shoulder injury

NEW YORK – Rangers defenceman Paul Mara injured his right shoulder Sunday during a third-period fight with Philadelphia’s Arron Asham and stayed home from New York’s trip to St. Louis after the game.

Mara had a brief examination of his shoulder at Madison Square Garden, but swelling prevented a closer look. He was immediately ruled out of Monday’s road game against the Blues and left the arena with his right arm in a sling.

The fight was stopped when Mara was injured 6:14 into the third period of Philadelphia’s 5-2 victory.

“The first two punches I was swinging and I could feel something in there and I stopped,” Mara said. “Give Arron a lot of credit. The respectful player that he is, he stopped. It was a very good character thing on his part.”

Mara, who conveyed that sentiment in a conversation with Asham, said he has never had a shoulder injury and held out hope he could return quickly from this one.

The six-foot-four Mara has been one of the Rangers’ most consistent defencemen this season and has played with an added measure of snarl throughout his 56 games.

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“We’ll take it day by day and see how it feels in the next couple of days,” the 29-year-old veteran of 10 NHL seasons said. “Right now it’s pretty painful so they’ll wait a couple of days, wait for the swelling to go down and assess it.”

Mara has five goals and 11 assists this season with a minus-2 rating. He had been a plus until Sunday, when he was on the ice for three Flyers goals.

The Rangers have a history of shoulder injuries during fights.

Former captain Jaromir Jagr hurt his right shoulder in a 2006 playoff loss at New Jersey when he threw a punch at Devils forward Scott Gomez, who is now in his second season with the Rangers.

Jagr eventually required surgery and needed until well into the 2006-07 season before he was back to full strength.