Artem Anisimov has nothing left to prove in the AHL, but he remains on the bubble as the preseason winds down for the Rangers.
"I don't think he's going to be in the top six as I write my lines," coach John Tortorella said last night before the Rangers earned their third straight victory, beating the Washington Capitals, 3-2, at the Garden. "But he's the type of guy I can put in those situations during a game. He's had a very good camp . . . Artie's killed some penalties, he's taken faceoffs for us, he's been responsible defensively, and what right now puts him in a good spot for this team is that he's scored some goals, he's got some offense."
Latest Rangers stories
Last season, Anisimov, 21, led the Wolf Pack in goals with 37 (fourth in the AHL) and points with 81 (fifth in the league) and was a plus-12. He made his NHL debut against Atlanta on Feb. 3 and his playoff debut in Game 7 against Washington on April 28.
The 6-4 center, who was the Rangers' second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2006 draft, is the team's leading scorer through his five preseason games with three goals and two assists. Last night he was on the fourth line (one of his competitors for a roster spot, Brian Boyle, was scratched), skating with Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros.
But Anisimov did not have an especially effective offensive game. His turnover led to a three-on-one break and Keith Aucoin's goal in the second period. He also lost the puck in the Rangers' zone when the Caps scored in the first.
"I thought I worked hard and got a lot of time on the penalty-kill," said Anisimov, who played 14:40, including 1:57 shorthanded, and did not register a shot but won five of eight faceoffs.
"On the second goal, I chipped it in, bad bounce," he said, shaking his head. "On the first, I just missed the puck and [Alexander] Semin came around the net and scored. But the team won, so I'm happy."
Notes & quotes: Marian Gaborik scored his first two goals of the preseason, including one shorthanded, and assisted on the game-winner by Chris Higgins, who nudged in a loose puck with 1:10 to play after Brandon Dubinsky drove to the net and was leveled by Milan Jurcina . . . D Bobby Sanguinetti was assigned to Hartford, leaving seven defensemen in camp. "He was a just step behind in everything," Tortorella said . . . D Matt Gilroy was chosen by the New York media for the annual Lars-Erik Sjorberg Award as the top rookie in camp . . . Marc Staal (groin) and Sean Avery (right knee sprain) were scratched.