Good Morning
Good Morning

Kaapo Kakko plays well in return to Rangers' lineup

New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24)

New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) controls the puck between Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) and right wing Jakub Voracek (93) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) Credit: AP/Adam Hunger

Kaapo Kakko came off injured reserve and played in the Rangers’ 4-0 win over the Blue Jackets on Friday night. To make room for him on the 23-man roster, fourth-line forward Ryan Reaves was placed on injured reserve. Reaves suffered a lower-body injury — it appeared to be an injury to his left leg — in the Rangers’ 5-1 loss to Calgary on Monday.

Kakko had three shots on goal, one takeaway and no giveaways in 14:54. He and linemates Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome dominated possession in the first period. Strome scored the Rangers’ first goal at 12:29 of the period off a pass from Panarin.

"I thought Kakko was really strong in that first period,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. "He played a good game, but the first period I really noticed him controlling the puck, his big body [6-3, 205 pounds], and Stromer looked really good tonight. And Panarin, obviously, had a couple of great assists and played pretty strong.’’

Reaves will make trip

Gallant, said he doesn’t expect Reaves to be out long-term. A player on IR must be deactivated for seven days, and Reaves’ stint is backdated to Tuesday, the day after the last game he played. That means he is eligible to return when the Rangers play Vancouver on Tuesday in the second game of the upcoming four-game road trip. Gallant said Reaves will be going on the trip.

Gauthier sits

With Kakko returning, forward Julien Gauthier came out of the lineup.

"It’s not like we’re really disappointed in him,’’ Gallant said. "It’s just that we’ve got 12 forwards and you’ve got 13 on your roster and one has to sit out.’’

Greg McKegg, who was called up from AHL Hartford when Strome went into the COVID-19 protocol, remained in the lineup and played on the fourth line, filling in for Reaves.

The start time for the Rangers’ game in Edmonton on Friday has been moved from 9 p.m. EST to 9:30 p.m.

New York Sports