Artemi Panarin #10 of the Rangers celebrates his second period power...

Artemi Panarin #10 of the Rangers celebrates his second period power play goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with teammate Mika Zibanejad #93 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Rangers coach Gerard Gallant chastised himself after Monday’s overtime win over the Devils for changing his forward lines too often. As the Rangers have mostly muddled through the first 30 games of the season, Gallant has been searching for line combinations that he likes and seem to work.

Down two goals early against the Devils Monday, he changed his lines again, putting Mika Zibanejad between Artemi Panarin and Barclay Goodrow and reuniting the Kid Line by putting Filip Chytil between Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits and won in overtime, 4-3. So, naturally, at practice on Wednesday, as the Rangers prepared to face the Toronto at the Garden Thursday, Gallant kept those two lines together.

How long they’ll be together, though, no one knows.

After practice, the coach was asked if he’d like to see Zibanejad and Panarin play together for an extended period.

“What's an extended period with me?’’ he joked.

When Panarin joined the team as a free agent in the summer of 2019, then-coach David Quinn said his intention was to play the Russian and Zibanejad together on the same line. But he quickly split them up and the two haven’t played together much – other than on the power play – over the four years they’ve been teammates. They started one game together this season, Nov. 26 against Edmonton, but were separated again the next game.

Panarin, the Rangers’ leading scorer, with 35 points (6 goals, 29 assists), said Wednesday he would like the opportunity to play 5-on-5 hockey with Zibanejad, the team’s second-leading scorer (15 goals, 18 assists) for a few games in a row.

“I mean I would love it, but that’s not a question for me,’’ he said.

Playing Panarin and Zibanejad on separate lines spreads out the Rangers’ talent and creates, in effect, what amounts to two No. 1 lines . But it leaves observers wondering what a Panarin-Zibanejad combination might be capable of.

“No one knows because we don’t play together much, so we'll see,’’ Panarin said. “I think we can play together, but it might take some time (for us) to understand each other. He has everything. I just have to use him right, (and) he has to use me right.’’

Gallant was asked if he thought, style-wise, the two players would mesh  well. He responded that he wouldn’t have put them together if he didn’t think they would. But he wouldn’t commit to giving the pair a long look.

Panarin, though, said he thinks the line, with the versatile Goodrow on right wing, could work. Goodrow can do some of the dirty work – winning puck battles along the boards, helping break the puck out of the defensive zone – and Panarin said, he’s been good at getting the puck to Panarin in space.  

“I like it,’’ Panarin said. “But we'll see how much it stays like that. Nobody knows, because we play two periods, separate again; play one period, separate again.’’

Gallant on the Great 8. Gallant was asked about Washington forward Alex Ovechkin scoring his 800th goal Tuesday against Chicago.

“I think it's awesome,’’ Gallant said. “He's a great goal scorer, and he's an older player now, but he's playing hard every night and he's winning hockey games for them … And he's far from done now, by the looks of it.’’

Ovechkin trails Gordie Howe by one goal for second all-time. He is 94 goals behind all-time leader Wayne Gretzky.

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