Of all the times for Marc Staal to miss his first game after playing in 247 straight since sitting out a pair of matches with the flu late in his rookie 2007-08 season, this wouldn't be the optimum night, not with the Blueshirts facing Alex Ovechkin and the Caps.

Chances are, however, that Staal will miss only the third game of his career because of the left knee he twisted on the first shift of Tuesday's match in Carolina that forced him out the final 18:40 of the Blueshirts' 4-3 shootout victory.

Staal, who did not participate in yesterday's practice at the Caps' training facility in Arlington, Va., will check with trainer Jim Ramsay to see whether he will be permitted to test the knee in the morning skate.