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Coach Alain Vigneault opts to play 11 forwards, 7 defensemen

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault talks to the media

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault talks to the media as the team opens training camp at MSG Training Facility in Greenburgh on Sept. 14, 2017. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

For the second time this season, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault opted to play 11 forwards and seven defensemen, rather than the standard 12-6 lineup. It didn’t work as well Saturday as it had against Montreal on Oct. 8 when Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves in the Rangers’ 2-0 win.

Before Saturday’s game, Vigneault said there were three decisions to make because of “bumps and bruises” and after warmups, the scratches turned out to be forwards Adam Cracknell and Paul Carey and eighth defenseman Steven Kampfer.

With only 12 healthy forwards, rookie center Filip Chytil (now in Hartford) and defenseman Brendan Smith were scratched against Montreal, which stands as the Blueshrts’ only win so far.

In Saturday’s postgame comments, Vigneault declined to discuss who was injured. “Everybody that I thought was questionable ended up playing,” Vigneault said.

He said he played the lineup which he thought “gave us the best chance to win,” in the second game of a back-to-back.

Fast makes debut

The Blueshirts now have 13 forwards available, with right wing Jesper Fast making his season debut after recovering from offseason hip surgery in early June. Fast played 15:14 and led the team with seven hits. He had two shot attempts, one blocked shot and won one of four faceoffs. “He had no [preseason] games and didn’t have a lot of practices, but I thought he skated well and competed real hard, as he always does,” said Vigneault.

Pavelec makes first start

In his first start as a Ranger, goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 16 saves on 19 shots. He had played 39 minutes after replacing Lundqvist in Toronto in the Rangers’ 8-5 loss . . . The Devils have won all three of their road games; the Rangers are 1-3 at home.

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