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Kaapo Kakko skates with Rangers for first time since upper-body injury

Rangers' Kaapo Kakko, center, celebrates his goal during

Rangers' Kaapo Kakko, center, celebrates his goal during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.  Credit: AP/Gene J. Puskar

NASHVILLE — Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko, who was placed on injured reserve last Sunday after suffering an upper-body injury in Saturday’s game in Montreal, skated for the first time since then at Thursday’s optional morning skate.

"It’s a good thing,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said.

Kakko is eligible to return to the active roster on Sunday. The Rangers are scheduled to practice that day at their MSG Training Center facility and have a home game Monday against the Calgary Flames.

Gallant on Wednesday said he isn’t a coach who necessarily has to have an injured player go through a full practice before reinserting him in the lineup. Kakko, he said, will play whenever he is ready.

The lineup has looked thin without Kakko and Ryan Strome, who missed his third game while in COVID-19 protocol. The duo make up two-thirds of the second line, which also includes Artemi Panarin.

Learning from Fox

Rookie defenseman Nils Lundkvist, who is similar in size to Adam Fox, was asked if he can learn how to play by watching Fox, the Norris Trophy winner last season as the NHL’s best defenseman.

"Yeah, for sure I learn from him,’’ the 5-11, 187-pound Lundkvist said. "He’s the best defenseman in the whole world and he’s a righty [as is Lundkvist]. He’s a little bit undersized [5-11, 183], too. I’m happy he’s here, because I can learn from him every day.’’

Blue notes

The Rangers were 0-for-4 on the power play and are 2-for-20 with the man advantage this season . . . F Julien Gauthier and Ds Jarred Tinordi and Libor Hajek were the scratches against Nashville. Hajek has yet to play in five games. Tinordi played the opener in Washington and has sat out four straight.

New York Sports