Zuccarello to play first game since skull fracture

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Tonight will be a special night for Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, as he’ll play for the first time since suffering a brain contusion that left him unable to speak.

Zuccarello, who had his skull fractured by a Ryan McDonagh shot during New York’s opening-round playoff win over Pittsburgh in April, will skate on a line with Rick Nash and Derick Brassard on Thursday evening when the Rangers take on the Bruins in Boston.

“I just want Zucc to have fun tonight,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said.

The 28-year-old, who underwent weeks of speech therapy following the incident, has been medically cleared to resume play and build upon last year’s solid campaign, in which he scored 49 points and averaged a career-high 17:16 TOI per night.

This year also marks the start of Zuccarello’s contract extension — a four-year, $18 million pact that carries a $4.5M average annual cap hit.