Kaapo Kakko, despite taking pregame warm-ups Saturday ahead of the Rangers’ 7-3 clobbering of the Coyotes, was a last-minute scratch with what the team said was an upper-body injury.
Asked after the win if Kakko had sustained an injury during warm-ups, head coach Gerard Gallant revealed the Finnish winger’s injury has been “going on for a little while.”
With Kakko labeled “day-to-day,” Dryden Hunt initially took his place on the top line next to Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. That combination, however, only logged 4:34 together, according to Natural Stat Trick, as Gallant jumbled his lines early on to try and snap the Rangers out of their post-travel funk.
“Sometimes, it works, sometimes, it doesn’t,” Gallant said. “You just wanted to change things up. And then we lost [Filip Chytil] after the first period also. It just gives me a chance to go with three lines for most of the game and rotate the third and fourth line with [Kevin] Rooney going back and forth with both of them. So it jump-started them, got them going, it was good.”
Kaapo KakkoUSA TODAY Sports
Artemi Panarin saw a bulk of time on the first unit, including at the very start of the second period, when the Rangers were trailing 2-1. Before the line adjustments, Barclay Goodrow slotted in on the right wing of the second line next to Panarin and Ryan Strome. When Panarin took shifts on the top line, Alexis Lafreniere stepped in on the left wing of the second unit.
After losing Kakko before the contest even started, the Rangers had to compete in the final two periods down a center after Chytil was hurt. Chytil took six shifts, blocked one shot and totaled 4:08 of ice time in the first period before he left for the locker room and didn’t return.
The Rangers announced during the game that Chytil had suffered a lower-body injury and was considered “day-to-day.”
Prior to Chytil’s injury, Gallant had opted to move the Czech forward back to the center of the third line on Saturday after deploying him on the wing the last handful of games. When Chytil went down, Kevin Rooney logged 2:31 between Hunt and Julien Gauthier on the third line.
With three assists, Zibanejad extended his season-long point streak to eight games. This streak is the longest of his career and the longest since Feb. 11-27, 2020.
Goalie Igor Shesterkin turned aside 26 of the 29 shots he faced to improve to 19-4-2 on the season.
The Rangers recalled forward Anthony Greco and defenseman Tarmo Reunanen from AHL Hartford and assigned them to the taxi squad. … Goalie Tyler Wall was assigned to the Wolf Pack.
Source by nypost.com