Rangers forward Colin Blackwell, who missed practice Monday because he was "sore’’ after an awkward fall into the boards in Sunday’s game, ended up being good to go and was in the lineup Tuesday night against Buffalo.
With Blackwell able to play, Rangers coach David Quinn used the same lineup he used Sunday against the Sabres. And he kept the same forward lines, too, meaning Blackwell played on the first line, with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, and Vitali Kravtsov remained on the fourth line, with Brett Howden and Kevin Rooney.
At least, he did at the start of the game. Quinn has, at times, moved Kravtsov up to play with Panarin and Strome during a game, and said he likes being able to do that.
"Obviously he's got the ability to play there,’’ Quinn said of Kravtsov. "And I think, the way we're going about it right now is the right way to do it. I think Blackie's done a really good job on that line. Depending on how the game's going and where we're at and how those guys are playing, I mean that, that is a game-to-game situation.
"Kravy's, I think he's only played 10 or 11 games so far (actually 13, entering Tuesday), but we certainly love a lot of what we see, that's for sure,’’ Quinn said. "I like the situation we're in right now. That doesn't mean at some point in time he couldn't play on those top two lines, permanently.’’
Kravtsov took one shift with Strome and Panarin, but he played just 8:35 in the game. Blackwell played 14:12.
Ryan Strome had the primary assist on Alexis Lafreniere’s goal and the secondary assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal to finish with two assists in the game. The assist on Zibanejad’s goal gave Strome his 300th NHL point, in his 541st game…. Zibanejad’s goal extended his point-scoring streak to four games… Adam Fox had an assist and continues to lead NHL defensemen in assists (42) and points (47)… Jacob Trouba missed his fourth straight game with an upper body injury… Julien Gauthier was scratched for the 13th straight game and Phil DiGiuseppe for the 12th straight. D Anthony Bitetto was scratched for the fourth straight time.