Kaapo Kakko of the New York Rangers against the Florida...

Kaapo Kakko of the New York Rangers against the Florida Panthers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final at Amerant Bank Arena on Sunday. Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

SUNRISE, Fla. — With fourth-line forward Jimmy Vesey out of action on a week-to-week basis with a left shoulder injury, Rangers coach Peter Laviolette chose to reinsert Kaapo Kakko, who had been a healthy scratch for Game 2, into Vesey’s spot for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final on Sunday against the Panthers.

It turned out to be a good choice. Kakko played a part in Alex Wennberg’s goal at 5:35 of overtime that gave the Rangers a 5-4 win at Amerant Arena and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

After Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov entered the circle to pick up a loose puck following a faceoff between Wennberg and Aleksander Barkov, Kakko lifted Kulikov’s stick, allowing Jack Roslovic to come in and take the puck away. Roslovic passed to Ryan Lindgren at the point and he fired a shot toward the net. Wennberg deflected the puck out of midair for the winner.

Kakko, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, was left out of the lineup Friday when Laviolette decided to play 6-8 rookie Matt Rempe in Game 2, seeking an injection of energy after the Rangers’ 3-0 loss in Game 1 on Wednesday.

“We made a decision to put Matt back in the lineup,’’ Laviolette said after being asked about the decision to scratch Kakko before Game 3. “Oftentimes, when somebody goes into the lineup, there’s a decision that has to be made on somebody else . . . And so we made a decision and it was Kaapo [who was scratched].’’

Vesey’s injury, suffered on an open-ice hit by Florida forward Ryan Lomberg in the second period of Game 2, created an opportunity to get Kakko right back in, though. Laviolette opted to keep Rempe — who had a game-high nine hits in Game 2 — in the lineup. The coach then had to choose between Kakko, Jonny Brodzinski, Blake Wheeler or Adam Edstrom to fill Vesey’s spot.

Kakko, who played the first 11 playoff games and had one goal and one assist, earned the opportunity and skated in his usual right wing spot on the third line next to Wennberg. Roslovic, who skated in that spot in Game 2, shifted to left wing on the line.

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